Summer, the highs and lows…

It’s always important to look on the bright side of things, so I shall list the good things about the current weather in the garden…

  1. The weeds are dying of their own accord, or alternatively deeply unhappy, thus easier to pull out.
  2. We are lucky cos there’s no bush fires nearby
  3. We are lucky cos we have a good bore, although we are getting worried it could be under stress.
  4. Haven’t seen a slug or snail in ages…
  5. Your garden gloves don’t get caked with mud when you’re weeding.
  6. You don’t need to mow the lawn at all except the strip by the gardens that inherits some water.
Pierre de Ronsard a few weeks ago before “Thrip Attack”
pierre post thrip attack

That’s it as far as I can think. Mostly it’s just all bad. every thing’s dying except the bugs and diseases which are thriving. While one thinks of fungus as a spring humid thing, as roses get stressed in any way they become much more susceptible to disease. The thrips have arrived en masse, thinking due to a sudden plummet in flowers they’ve all congregated in the few there are at present, turning them all into ugly brown mush. I hate thrips!!! So its been early morning hefting of back pack loaded with fungicide and confidor.

In other more pleasant news we had our mid summer open day on Saturday and fluked probably the coolest day in a month, with some cloud and a nice breeze. There were lots of visitors who mostly went home with loads of roses and perennials. We kicked off our Sizzling Summer Sellout which will now continue for the next month or so. You can snap up bargains online or arrange to come and pick up from the nursery.

Gardening with the heater on…

It’s amazing how quickly things change. We sat through, and possibly revelled in the wettest December in living memory. How then , a few weeks later can we be despairing of the dry! The heat is the answer, that nasty golden eye beating down on us and our roses relentlessly. In my younger days I worked on through it and got hot and brown, but as I’ve got older I can’t handle being out in it for any length of time, so it’s early starts and late finishes for me in the garden at the moment, with a few short sortees in between. Bookwork and housework get done in it, along with baking and preserving, but not gardening.

The roses are loving it though, as it’s still wet deep down where their roots are and the find that nasty golden eye very invigorating. Basal shoots are still bursting out all over the place and flower production is at an all time high for January. The flowers cope less well in the sun and tend to go from bud stage to blown in a matter of hours. It’s interesting to note how different plants react, some roses, just like some people, cope much better with the glare.

Talking about change, I currently have this shot of the old fashioned border as my screen saver

and recently while trawling through photos looking for perennial shots to put on the perennial page I came upon the same view (slightly different angle, but the same piece of garden) 3 years ago

Haha I was so proud of how good it looked I took a photo!!! Having scoffed at the thought, there were a lot less weeds in that garden 3 years ago…

Merry Christmas and all that weather!

A belated Christmas greeting to all. The weather this month has been ….interesting …to say the least. We have clocked up 120 mils these last few days, and that’s on top of several other hundred (or so it seems) in recent weeks. Grass growth in the district has reached new heights, I believe somewhere nearby the dry matter production reached 60kg per hectare per day, which broke records and means a lot of unprecedented crazed growth in the garden. That goes for plants and weeds alike. So the roses are throwing up basal shoots like there’s no tomorrow. These immediately load themselves with buds and as the flowers start to open in record time the rain comes down, drenches the flowers and bingo, sappy new shoot snaps off at the base. This can be quite heart wrenching, especially when the rose concerned hasn’t been vigorous in the past.

The answer of course is staking, but unfortunately due to circumstances beyond my control, I haven’t had as much garden time as I would like, so I just have to cry a bit and take the broken shoot for house flowers and hopeful cuttings.

Having had an early first flush, the repeat roses are now pretty much in full flower again. It will be interesting to see if some of the once flowerers have a bit of a second go as they did last season…seems highly likely. Certainly the once flowering ramblers are extending their season, and still producing some late bunches. Also the spring perennials are carrying on with the abundance of moisture, so all in all the gardens are pretty crowded with flowers.

After a disappointing “take” from our Autumn/winter cuttings, in the spirit of hope, I’ve been making odd ones on through the spring and summer. Things are looking good on this front, we have quite a lot of new roses coming on which should be available in the Autumn.

We’re also flat out dividing perennials which can cope with summer amendment, so should have some good new selections available by our next Open Day on February 9th.Our Perennial selection will re appear on the site shortly, as possibilities to share box space with roses being sent. I made a few Christmas experiments, and our way of posting them appears to work fine in these hotter months.

Since I started this blog Summer has hit with a vengeance and the weather forecast shows no more rain in the meantime, so hopefully the weeding will last a little longer from now on! It’s pretty depressing when the area you weeded meticulously a week or two ago is knee high again!

I better draw to a close now before another week passes and I still haven’t published. So farewell 2018 and let’s hope 2019 is a good growing season for all.

Breathe again now !

We have lived through the last of our Spring Open Weekends! The weather Gods were are a little unkind this weekend, but many braved the rain and there were several fine periods for those with lucky timing.

As we were pretty desperate for rain we’re not allowed to complain when it rains at inconvenient times.

But of course we do…

There was no wind here, so umbrellas worked well and it wasn’t raining in the shed!

So all in all, our first open days were successful enough that we have decided we will have others in the future, next one possibly in February, when obviously the garden won’t be very magnificent, but we may well have lots of plants for bargains if it has dried up by then.

In the garden it’s all about dead heading rain drenched roses and trying to keep the crazed weeds at bay.

Also with this continued wet November/December weather one can continue with some spring planting without condemning oneself to water carrying for ever. Some of the early Spring perennials have already done their dash and are ready for amending with secateurs, hedge trimmers or a spade, depending on how it performed. The aquilegias have been magnificent this season, and the blue/purples look great amongst the lighter colours, but they have a tendency to take over somewhat, so I usually ditch all the plain ones before they drop their seeds. This obviously leaves some large gaps which would look better filled, so I can browse what’s left in our perennial “shop” and happily plant them in the spaces.

We’ll be doing a stocktake on what roses are left for sale after the influx of customers and update the website, will also return those of the perennials left that should travel ok in the summer.

Spring is in full swing!

Open days

Well, the first open weekend is done and dusted. Our fears of a no-show have been allayed, the weather Gods smiled on us and all attendees,  and everyone seemed interested in the garden. Sales of roses and perennials were very brisk! The nursery is actually looking rather depleted for next weekend, but luckily we have more things coming on to offer.

In the gardens the Irises are in full swing (excepting the Japanese and Siberian) and  more roses are opening into magnificence everyday. Everything is definitely a couple of weeks ahead of schedule. Even the once flowerers are showing colour or opening their first buds.

We have more than usual new roses to be extra excited about this season, as we bought a lot of new ones we thought might not be available again, and had quite a few successes from cuttings we have collected in the South Island and about the place.

Leda, Damask rose

We have been having exemplary spring weather, long fine spells and now some much needed rain. Weather for next weekend’s open days is looking a bit ominous, but then so did last weekend in advance, so who knows, it might be fine again.

The roses in general are looking pretty healthy so far this season, I’ve been spraying the disease prone ones and certainly need to spray all round for aphids again…they are hideous this year. It’s quite a mission when you have close to 600 roses and an aging back…must get that motorised spray unit for the quad operating again…

So a few days to enjoy the garden ourselves, and try to control the uncontrollable weeds and the 2nd open weekend will be upon us.

Come have a look and a smell, maybe buy a plant or 2, or have a cup of tea and peruse the lovely handmade pottery we have for sale.

Open Sat 3rd & Sun 4th Nov
10am- 4pm both days.


Garden tours and plant sales

Open 24 & 25th November 2018

The early species should still be good and the main flush building. It’s a better time to get roses and perennials in the garden too, before it gets too hot.

Admission FREE

Light refreshments for a gold coin donation. Plenty of paddock/lawn parking (so long as it’s not really wet)

Roses, perennials & pottery for sale.

NO EFTPOS : bring cash or have good coverage on your phone for internet transfer! (poor coverage under the Hunuas)

Sociable dogs welcome on leads and please pick up any leavings in the garden!

We have 2 gardens to peruse. Main rose garden and nursery at 761 Kaiaua Road, Mangatangi. The second garden,  “Alice’s Wonderland” is a short walk across the paddock.

We will be running 2 Open Weekends in November, which should be prime Rose Appreciation month ! The 1st weekend in November, the 3rd and 4th and the last weekend which is the 24th and 25th.

Unwanted POTS wanted here! Please if you have any old plant pots hanging around bring them to us…we run a very low cost operation using pretty much all recycled stuff, which means we can keep our prices budget.

By the pricking of my thumbs…

…rose season this way comes. As August draws to a close , we’ve been rushing around trying to sign winter in the garden off with a bit of a spray and general tidy up among the rose beds. I’m not obsessed with pruning as many rose gardeners are. For a start we grow mostly shrub roses, (which are happy to grow unpruned thru the seasons) and they do tend to get regular trims as we “milk them ” for cuttings during the late summer thru to winter.. Pruning roses is one of those subjects that get a lot of press and probably one that puts many people off growing them , as they gather it is a science that the common man couldn’t cope with unless he had attended seminars and read books.

Nothing could be further from the truth! Roses have got to be one of the toughest species of garden plants there are, and will survive whatever nature throws at them and humans inflict on them…so if you haven’t got round to pruning your roses this season, don’t worry about it. Anytime will do for a tidy up, you can do it while you’re picking blooms for the house in November if you want…or just give it a miss till next year.

Sometimes an old rose becomes very unsightly if it hasn’t been pruned for some years and may be an eyesore in a garden you have inherited…no problem…stump it! If you just saw all its arms off near the base, and give it a good feed, you can be 99% sure it’ll send out new healthy shoots from the base and be beautiful again!

Our perennial business is now a happening thing, we have sent a few orders successfully and they travel well with their rose friends from the garden.

This summer we are hosting some open days in the garden, starting in late October. You are welcome to come along without appointment and view the 2 gardens. There will be roses and perennials at our very reasonable prices available, also some other garden related stuff for sale.

The first weekend will be 27/28 October. Admission free, refreshments available for a gold coin donation.

Our aged dachshund is always keen for a photo shoot! Looking handsome amidst the mini daffodils!

In the meantime the garden is continuing in it’s late winter glory. Plenty to catch the eye/nose and pick for nanas…the “spring bulbs”are probably at their best in our garden in late August. Some of course are done and dusted, but the daffodils are wonderful, and the dutch irises. The blue bells are sending up their magnificent blue heads and the friesias and spraxias are all getting their acts together.  Then their are the magnolias, rhodos and  camellias making a real impact around the edges.The Tea roses continue to manage some late winter blooms and all the repeat flowering roses are starting to dress themselves, ready to produce spring abundance. Always such an exciting time, especially if you have new roses in the garden. We have several we have never had before this season…quite a big several really as we bought a fair few while they were still available and procured cuttings of many more. With kind assistance from some heritage rose members we have been able to welcome some old David Austins back to the collection, and even a couple of “new-old”ones that have never been commercially available…very exciting season ahead….

We’re hitting the social media!

Call me old fashioned…or heritage if you prefer? but I’ve never taken to the social media craze…I’ve never had a facebook page, or twittered or anything cool like that. My daughter, Alice, who runs our Weiti Stables business these days, harassed me for years to put Weiti Stables on facebook, and eventually I crumbled a few years ago and let her go for it. She has a very successful “page” I think, with thousands of followers who she amuses most days with fun posts about the horses and animals in the yard. She sells a heap of horses through it, without having to spend any money on advertising. I can keep up with what’s happening over at the stables without having to mount my trusty quad. So all in all you could say I’m a convert to facebook as a business tool.

So, Alice is now joining me in the plant business and we have set up the perennial section in a small way to start. As of today she has started a facebook page called Grassroots Roses and Perennials which hopefully will bring in some customers to this new side of our small family business. We are planning to have some open days in the Spring, when you can come along and look at our respective gardens (a couple of smallish paddocks separate them) and peruse the roses and perennials on offer at bargain prices. Alice is heavily into succulents and cacti as well, which have never been my speciality and she is also very artistic (which she certainly didn’t inherit from me) so her garden is a lot more interesting than mine!

If you’re into this sort of thing please check out our new page (and “like” it of course)

In other news…

I guess you’ve noticed that Spring has sprung a bit ahead of schedule this year…although they’re advertising a bit of a barometer drop again this weekend, on the whole August has been unexpectedly wonderful so far, with balmy temperatures and lots of sunny days to make up for the windy wet ones.

I feel even more behind than last year with my winter jobs like spraying, trimming and fertilising. not to mention weeding…the bloody things have never really slowed down this winter. Spring could be quite scary…anyways, what will be will be. We’ve stayed very busy on the rose selling front and are really low on decent sized plants available, but that’s what’s supposed to happen I guess and there’s plenty of babies coming on in the nursery now.

My major gripe for the month is rabbits. I used to think possums were worse, silly me. Possums are easy to shoot at night if you have a son and a gun. And they even put their heads willingly in those silly plastic traps. Rabbits on the other hand are the root of all evil. Very hard to shoot and they don’t seem very scared of me and my team of hunting dogs. My daughter, who has a much bigger team of equally useless dogs, has a very new garden and is also being driven mad by the rodent depredation. She’s rather more pro active than me and checked it out on social media ! Her answer seems to be helping…It scares the rabbits and some of the horses, but not this one! She moves it around every night and he has definitely reduced carnage. Not a particularly attractive garden ornament though! and I’d need many as my garden is a lot less compact than hers…

That’ll do for tonight, I promise next time I’ll say something interesting about roses…

A new side to the business is looming…

I have spent my life self employed in various “homemade”businesses. The first I started at 14, a pony ride business with a sign painted on an old bed head proclaiming “PONY RIDES 30c”. I made over $100 that summer traipsing around a small paddock in the suburbs of East Coast Bays with 2 ponies and crowds of local children aboard.

Later my older sister and I started up a pet shop which we ran for nearly ten years, interspersed with other horse businesses, buying and selling, giving lessons, even selling bags of their manure to local gardeners kept me solvent one year.

When my children arrived, I was slightly (not much) more tied to the house and the gardening genes inherited from both my parents came into play and I started getting into gardens as well as horses and farming.

As I also appear to have inherited their ‘waste not, want not”philosophy in life, I soon

humble beginnings

found myself potting up excess plants when clearing up the garden. Then what to do with them? and my natural business acumen came to the fore and I set up a little stall at the end of the driveway. More hand painted signs and soon I had a booming little side line selling free range eggs, various animal manures and plants. I made cuttings of various things to see what happened and somewhere along the line as I had become somewhat obsessed with roses I started trying cuttings of some of these, and voila “Grass Roots Roses”was born.

5 years ago when we bought our present property in the North Waikato and I began the job of building my ‘forever’garden. I had to give up the side of the road business as I was too busy darting from farm to farm. I did however keep on with making the rose cuttings and selling the plants on Trademe and to established customers.

Then old friend Malcolm came along with our excellent new website and things started moving. Now 90% or more of the

old prices!

orders are posted (though we’re perfectly handy to Auckland for   pick up)


When you are building a relatively big garden, it takes many plants to fill it, so for the first few years all extras were transplanted into the many gaps, but now things are getting established here, the current winter clean up produces many surplus. Perennials which have gone rampant often need digging up to clear out the ubiquitous buttercup intertwined with the roots etc and many of the irises etc will benefit from being broken up and replanted.

As time has gone on, I have considered adding perennials to our rose plants for sale, and now, I am actively potting up those special perennials and garden plants to share with the world.

As it takes some time for the plants to be ready for sale, I have also been working on the web site to add a perennial section. We will sell the perennials, Irises, shrubs etc alongside the roses so they can be ordered and sent together. For the cooler months we will post the perennials in the same way we do the roses, partially bare rooted and wrapped in damp newspaper. this keeps postage costs down.

It is now almost ready to go live.  Watch this space!


Some observations about roses…and producing them

At this time of year (well the last couple of months really) there are so many columns in papers and magazines about making cuttings of things, especially it appears, of roses. I sometimes wonder if these various authors have ever tried any number of cuttings themselves to prove their wise theories, or whether they read it from a book. The same book as everyone else… The thing is, I’ve “planted” a lot of cuttings over the last 20 years, tens of thousands I guess, and I find much of the advice rather tiresome and unhelpful.      

From the beginning, the “golden rule” appears to be that your cutting must be the length and diameter of a pencil. This must  be true, because every one says the exact same thing. That same old pencil. Well good luck to you finding a pencil on any miniature, china or polyantha rose,  can cuttings not be made from them??? Turns out they’re 3 of the most readily rooting rose families, despite being devoid of pencils ! And cut a suitable branch from a big grower and you’ll have to discard 90% of it and just keep the tip, all the rest of the wood will be way wider than a pencil…

Then of course the cutting must be straight, have no branches, at least 4 leaf nodes bla bla bla. Well it’s all rubbish. (in my humble opinion) The likes  of Mme Alfred Carriere or Variegata de Bologna will provide pot after pot of these text book cuttings each season. They’ll tick every box …until some weeks pass and they all go brown, with not a root in sight. Maybe the very odd success to keep you trying. On the other hand a pot of Old Blush with bent and twiggy pieces, varying in size from tiny twigs to stumpy branches, all shorter than pencils and with multiple side branches to cut off each messy cutting…you might expect a 90 to 100% success with those! Cos Chinas love to make roots , and quickly, as do Wichurianas and Multifloras. Gallicas prefer to sucker and are usually painstakingly slow to make roots, ditto pimpinellifolias and rugosas, in general. So when it comes to attempting cuttings of modern roses, they are so hybridised, having been crossed species to species for literally centuries, you won’t know ,until you try, to which side of their complex families they have thrown.

And so the instructions continue…always use a pencil with at least 4 leaf nodes. Another reason to not even try a variety of roses. A Tea rose for example, often is quite sparsely clothed (not many leaves) , therefore if you’re sticking with your pencil length cuttings you may be lucky to include 4 nodes in the required stem…what to do ? throw the wood away? I say not. I say take all instructions with a hefty handful of salt and give it a go…stick them in and see what happens…you may be pleasantly surprised.

The most unlikely cuttings can often take and as a rule I find the thinnest twigs usually make roots a lot faster than the bigger pieces of wood.

So that’s my rave over for the year, and onto some other observations I find interesting…

Growth habit in roses varies immensely and is obviously genetic. A rose for sale is most often bought for the flower, when you buy a young bush you will know little of what’s going to happen to the bush in the future, unless you know the genetics.

Nowadays, modern hybridisers tend to spend more time producing the complete picture, rather than just a pretty face. Therefore experienced rose breeders will pass over many beautiful bushes they have bred due to “bad “habits, like disease,blooms dying badly, unsightly die back on the bush after flowering etc etc The David Austin company has recently copyrighted the majority of their roses to protect the name from usurpers after the PVR is expired. The growth habit and die back is obviously one of the standards in choosing which to copyright. Interestingly many of the true old roses sport many of these ” genetic faults” but that doesn’t stop people wanting to grow them!Souvenir de la Malmaison with its bad habits of mildew, mean thorns and balling is still possibly the world’s favourite old fashioned rose. Certainly it’s one of my favourites!