newsletter 27 january 2021

From Rhonda

Hi everyone

Welcome back to what I am sure will be an interesting year one way or another.

Your committee is up and running again and preparing for the next meeting on the fifth of February.  Murray Bridges will be our guest speaker. Note for new members – Murray is one of our resident experts and some will remember him from the Good Morning Show on the TV. Murray will be sharing his knowledge and telling us what we need to know  in the month of February.

The weather over Christmas has not been summery –  indeed I heard it was hailing last week in Otaki. I had two garden surprises this month: a small black lily and a small pink one both of the Arum family,  and of course a wonderful display of everyone’s favorite, the Fairy rose.

Happy New year and see you on the 5th. Marilyn will post the Flower of the month.

From Judi

Hi  everyone

As I write this, the high squally winds are playing havoc with my beautiful summer garden. Dahlias have reached 6ft  tall and a lovely yellow cream lily with 11 heads on it has got to 8ft. Most of the dahlias are okay because I did manage to stake them 2 months ago before they grew, plus they kind of are supporting each other.  (I do have a habit of growing everything close together). I had extra tubers and I put these all in very large pots. I didn’t really have enough time to buy more stakes because of being in and out of hospital with my daughter’s leukemia treatment. Anyway, every one of those in pots has broken off or fallen over, along with my sweet peas.

The crazy wild weather has almost wrecked them,.but not all bad as prior to all of that, I have totally enjoyed all the amazing colours, beautiful details and forms on every different flower pattern, as no doubt you are also. We are all blessed with stunning designs in nature, no matter what plant or shrub we look at.

I do still have the continuous Compassion rose and couple of the smaller shrublets like Baby Jack, as well as some wonderful hydrangeas putting on a splendid show too.

I am looking forward to our first club night  in February where we can all have a great catch up. It will be interesting to hear what everyone’s doing in the garden

From Julian

World’s Biggest Hydrangea

Unless you know of a bigger one! It must have really enjoyed all that extra rain we had in November, nearly two and a half times the average for the month. The variety is Geoffrey Chadbund.

What is this?

Springing up among summer bedding, it lives  invisibly underground for most of the year, attached to the roots of whatever plant it is feeding on, then suddenly appears when it wants to flower. It doesn’t seem to be doing the tagetes much harm, however, except for not fitting in with the colour scheme. Its English name is broomrape; Orobanche in Latin.

From Marilyn

Like Judi, I am revelling in the bold and beautiful in the garden at the moment.

Evening Primrose has self- sown throughout the front garden and adds height and colour  – it matches the standard yellow roses that they are amongst. They are pretty much the same height as well.

Earlier the self-sown shirley poppies were filling a near-by  area. A good reason not to weed as you never know what else might pop up. Last year I transplanted most of my dahlias into one bed and that is now a riot of colour. My Christmas lilies were out for Christmas, followed by a steady stream of other lilies coming and going.

The rose that has amazed me this season is another transplant. It came from a shady nook and it really didn’t do anything there at all. Over winter it was given a new home in a sunny spot and it has flowered continuously from mid-November and is still going strong. The rose is called Lemon ‘n Lime and has a delicate fruity perfume. It is not a large bush and I can thoroughly recommend it if you want a moderate-sized rose for a smaller garden.

Now, on to business. We will be having our usual competitions at the club night. The Flower of the Month for the Pat Browne Trophy will be a stem from a summer bulb or tuber. The Sales Table will be up and running as will our raffles.

Just a reminder that the following meeting in March will start with our AGM, probably only half an hour will be needed, and we will be electing our new committee. This year it would be good to have a couple of new faces join us. Think on it and if you can spare a bit of time to help out, please let us know. We would love to have you on board.

For the Afternoon Floral Group

Your first meeting will be on the 5th as well. This year’s Competition Table will start with your design for “St Valentine’s Day” and the workshop will be for St Patrick’s Day, with lots of greenery ornaments( a leprechaun?) and maybe even a green container.

hydrangea fireworks

This is Hydrangea ‘Fireworks’, a lacecap variety of Hydrangea macrophylla raised in Japan where it is named ‘Hanabi’. It might well seem a bit “pretty” for some, but, now on its third flowering with me, I’m very pleased with the way it looks. The flowers are quite a bright cold white, the coldness perhaps coming from their faint blue veins and streaks, and that means the whole shrub shows up well in a shady spot, here with softer toned plants around it.

beans two ways

They say that in Britain runner beans were grown as garden flowers for nearly a century before they realised that you could eat them too. I’m pushed for space in this little garden, the veges are grown in containers out the back, and the front garden is for flowers only. The scarlet runners can certainly do both jobs, I only wish I had found longer and stronger canes to grow them up as they are over the top already. Come to think of it, this should be a good way to grow rock melons or gherkins. That can be next year’s project, if there is room between the flowers.

If you think this is a new idea; here is an extract from a gardening book written in 1874:

Between these old Apple-trees and the young standards there was room, which I am making ornamental with cones of Scarlet Runners. We have some five circles on each side of the walk and shall train up the bean tendrils by strings fastened to a centre pole, so that in summer we shall have a succession of tents of scarlet and green. I tried this method of training Scarlet Runners on a smaller scale last year. The effect was excellent.

from “A Year in a Lancashire Garden” by H. A. Bright, eBook downloaded from Project Gutenberg.

scented evenings

This is night-scented or evening-scented stock growing in a small pot, about 20cm (9″) wide and deep, and when we sit outside in the evening its perfume fills the air. It is an easy annual to grow, Kings and Egmont both sell the seed. I started mine in October, actually in a seed tray and then pricked it out, but I could just as well have sprinkled some seed directly onto the filled pot. It has been flowering and scenting our little outdoor space for more than a month already and looks good for another month at least.


This morning we got busy at the MacLean Street Market, hoping to dispose of all that was left from our year’s activities. A fine sunny day, though rather a cool and windy one. Special congrats to Marilyn, who made the banner so that everybody knows who we are; and to Rhonda, who produced a seemingly endless supply of potted succulents, dozens of varieties, two or more to a pot. Everything sold, so we went home happy, and looking forward to next Friday – the final meeting of the year and Christmas wind-up party.

smelly british natives

A garden visit a few days ago brought back memories of lanes and hedgerows in the south of England, in the form of two plants that grow wild in those places. Both of them, incidentally , with rather smelly leaves. First there was betony, Stachys officinalis, also called bishops wort and well known to herbalists for centuries past. It’s a member of the mint family, a very large family and a lot of them are aromatic in one way or another – pleasantly, like rosemary and thyme, or not so nice, like betony. The second plant was the stinking iris, Iris foetidissima, also called gladwin and roast beef plant. The flowers are small and dull in colour; its real glory comes in winter when the fat seed pods split open and show off their rows of scarlet seeds. So, two North European plants brought here, accidentally or not, by our colonial ancestors, and a reminder to us gardeners: as well as admiring the look of a garden and smelling the flowers, crush a leaf and sniff, you may be surprised!

Evening meeting, 6 november 2020

Rosa Stewart presented an enthralling talk illustrated with a good many photos, covering not only the local birdlife in the Hutt Valley, but also giving an insight into how the weeks of lockdown had affected her and her community. Plenty to think about and well put together. Cheers, Rosa.

And on the competition table: a rose was the well-timed choice for ‘flower of the month’; 21 near-perfect exhibits – well done us.

newsletter 23 september 2020

From Rhonda

Hi everyone Good news for us all…back to covid level one which means our flower show is very likely to go ahead as normal. Your committee is getting organised, so hopefully are you. Please check the categories Julian has written for you.

Thank you all for your advice on wild flower gardens. My seeds arrived yesterday so I mixed them with some Flanders poppies and Marie’s bee mix. It conveniently rained last night so I can’t wait to see what will happen.

I spread them under my avocado tree…the self-planted one that did nothing until we spent a fortune on cultivated ones. The tree is covered in thousands of flowers. I wonder if the bees will oblige because there truly are thousands of flowers. Our lemon tree is still covered in big fat juicy lemons if any-one would like some let me know. I have made marmalade and lemon curd and will start freezing them ready for next winter.

Hopefully the markets and venues will be open this week so we are feeling pretty blessed compared to the state of some countries. See you all soon at Ocean Road on 2nd October, Rhonda Edwards

From Julian – Bare-Root Orchids

I am having a bit of an experiment here. This North-West corner gets no sun, except late in the day during high Summer. Overhead there is a variegated Pittosporum and a Camellia trained as small trees, and the ground beneath is colonised by yellow Canna and purple violets. It seems like a good place to try growing these two cymbidiums with their roots among the plants and leaf-litter on the ground. They are both out of their pots and I’m hoping that the violets will grow all over their roots and act like a growing medium, while the Canna stems shelter them from the wind, especially over Winter. The pink Cymbidium has already spent a year here, albeit in its pot, and is flowering well, so the location must suit it; I hope they are just as happy next Spring!

From Judi

Hi all, What a difference a week makes once spring has arrived. Two of my blue Iris have popped open. Just about every Ajuga blue is standing like a soldier along the borders and a gorgeous pink Azalea has brightened a dark area of the garden.

Last week I showed a couple ofcream blooms had opened on one of my Rhodos but this week, it’s putting on quite a show so now I just can’t wait till the rest catch up and do their flowering as I have pink, purples and red yet to come. Sadly, we all know they only last about three weeks.

In the wheelbarrow (top right) there is a white Bacopa putting on a nice display. I didn’t know it was going to do so well there so it was a bonus after I took it out of it’s small overcrowded pot. it’s good to try different things from time to time.

On the weekend, I cleaned up my kitchen windowsill and used various mini vases and bowls, etc to display some different coloured succulents. I also potted up some for the sales table for the flower show in October. We can all do half a dozen cuttings or so of anything you have spare lying around. Self-sown seedlings popping up are great to lift this time of year – violas, pansies, any vege as well. I have lots of extra perpetual spinach so that’s what I will be doing tomorrow.

Keep smiling everyone, we just got the news we are now back down to Level one so it’s time to celebrate Cheers Judi

From Andrew

I recently wanted some stainless screw eyes for ropes to support vines on my pergola. The ones I considered are about $6 each, but I found these nifty “Q-hangers” in a 12-pack for just under $23 at Mitre10 (under $2 ea). They combine the features of a screw eye and hook.

My vegetables going to seed (Rocket, Kale) around the birdbath have created a nice cottage garden effect. Either side in the background are two dogwood trees. My limes are yellow! Here’s a Tahitian lime, a Yen Ben dwarf lemon and a Bearss dwarf lime. I intend labelling these trees to help future picking. When I cut the limes open they are slightly green, having more segments and thinner skin than lemons. And – yes, they are really bitter!


From Rhonda

Hello Horti people

Here we go again back into lockdown though not so bad this time as we know the ropes.

My garden will benefit hugely as I will have time to do those many little jobs that I have neglected. My spinach and miners lettuce keep us in winter greens and my elephant garlic is flourishing.

We have buds in the fruit trees and the plums are in bloom. My garden surprise this month is the miniature daffodil pictured here with one of my King Alfreds.

I bought three of Merle’s white polyanthus from our market stall and my grandchildren took them and planted them in their garden by their playhouse. The plants are in bloom and look wonderful in the shade and I wish I had purchased heaps more.

Spring is always exciting and we have a wonderful climate here in Kapiti so we do not experience the dramatic transition in the Southern region. I still have a small pot of Cape Gooseberries I have been nurturing for I think it was Jill and some red geranium cuttings Fay brought for someone. I will bring them to the next meeting which is currently on hold until further notice. We will send out weekly updates and keep you posted. People who are not on the internet will be given a phone call if there are any dramatic changes.

Keep safe and hope to see you all again soon

Kind regards ,Rhonda

From Judi

Good morning all. I’m sure many have been out in their gardens with all the glorious sunny days we’ve had. I’ve chosen to move some of my Dahlias back a bit. I gave them a dressing of Blood & Bone and a handful of slow release fertilizer before a layer of pea straw.

The photo attached is a couple of new ones I couldn’t resist. One could never have too many of these beautiful show stoppers. It’s a pity they are never out in time for our Flower Show.

Apart from that, time has been spent tidying up lots of little areas that needed attention. I think I’m starting to feel much fitter because of being back in the garden more so that’s always a plus.

Happy gardening everyone, Judi

From Diana

We had a good meeting at the Afternoon Floral Group on August 7th and the ladies did well with their designs.

The AFG committee have decided that they will hold the afternoon meeting in September, making sure that all the measures required to safely hold the meeting will be put in place For our next competition, it’s BOUNCE INTO SPRING. Our workshop will be a practice for October’s design “THE WITCHING HOUR (HALLOWEEN)”. Any dark container, eg old black pot, artificial pumpkins or real! Scoop out, eyes shaped, small light globe inside, torch, black ornamental cat (real one if you like!) witches, orange\black sweets, orange\black drapes, anything scary, leaves, remember cans of black and orange paint to spray anything.

Any member of the KHS is welcome to attend the afternoon group as your subs cover both afternoon and evening meetings.

From Marilyn

Mum and Dad live in Auckland and we were lucky enough to be able to celebrate their 70th wedding anniversary with them and leave to come home before that lockdown occurred. Unfortunately I missed our monthly get-together and it sounds as though the speaker was one I would have liked to have caught up with. (I have often thought I would like to try my hand at bee-keeping.

As we didn’t get home until Tuesday last week after a stopover in Tauranga, I was delighted to find that most of my hellebores had used the time since I left to move from bud to full bloom. I never realised how many I had in the garden.

Dutch irises are also opening up and the erlicheer and snowdrops are hanging around so there is colour again in the garden. And while I can’t top Rhonda’s plums in bloom, I do have two blossoms on my dwarf peach tree – despite a week of frosts. Where we are, we seem to lose the effect of the sea-breeze and have had frost most mornings – twice in the last week, we have been down to -2C. Shouldn’t have too many bugs left after this.

I had mentioned that we had revised the Rules for the Society and were intending to hold a Special Meeting at the start of our usual Friday evening meeting. With the uncertainty of the way this Covid resurgence will go, we are waiting for things to come back to normal before proceeding with this.

From the Evening Competition Table

Flower of the month – Pauline Steel with an unnamed daffodil

Best Bloom – Rhonda Edwards with a Tibouchina

Most Unusual – Marie O’Sullivan with a Euphorbia wulfenii flower

Fruit and Veg – Julian Chadwick with a Chinese cabbage ‘Napa Blues’

Well done everyone!