The Green Drought…3rd time lucky ( I hope)

Computers and I are not very compatible. This is my 3rd attempt at this blog, the last 2 were eaten by the computer when I asked it to publish. I have very poor internet here and it turns itself off often…if I press something when the internet has disconnected, …gone…and it might just as well happen when I ask it to save draft if its not in the mood, so there you go. This is my third and final attempt and if it happens again I officially give this lark up!

So…the Green Drought…not a widely known term, but a self explanatory phenomenon . Summer is over, Autumn is here, except no Autumn rains. A few feeble attempts are enough to set the grass and weeds feebly growing, and the shorter and comparatively cooler days and nights allow the feeble sprouts to stay alive. Hence we have rock hard, bone dry soil with a fine cover of green to trick passers by.

At least in these conditions watering works well, so I can plant things once the site has been flooded so I can get the spade in to dig the hole and remove weeds which are welded into the rock ! fill the hole with water, insert pot bound plant which has been waiting in the nursery too long, cover surrounding area with thick layer of mulch and whammo…autumn colour has arrived. So that’s what I’ve been doing a bit of every day, filling in gaps and applying mulch to stop the weeds coming back. It’s hard yakka though, so I can only manage a small area every day.

In between I’m continuing to make lots of rose and perennial cuttings and also potting up some kind ones that took for me in the summer.

In other news, we’re planning an open day on Sunday April 28th. Garden and Nursery will surely be full of happiness and autumn rain by then. We have lots of interesting new perennials on offer, including a great selection of Salvia, which have certainly earned their keep in the garden during this exceptionally hot, dry summer.


April flowers from The David Austin collection

Autumn amongst the roses is surely my favourite season. Of course we must make do with the repeat flowerers, as the magnificence of the True Old Fashioneds is a Spring only thing, but the Autumn flush is much less hectic and the roses are slowing down and really concentrating on their blooms, so it’s all about quality, not quantity. Of all the species in the garden which coped with the dry summer, the roses certainly came out on top. Autumn is a great time to get plants in the ground, for the next couple of months they’ll be going for it and will be well established by the time winter sets in. So get planting (you may need to get buying first) and make sure you save time to admire the beautiful autumn blooms.

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…

February Open Day

Grassroots Roses & Perennials

Garden tours and plant sales

Open Saturday February 9th, 2019
10am to 4pm

Admission FREE

We have two lovely gardens to peruse in a tranquil farm setting. With the main rose garden featuring over 600 heritage rose and nursery at

761 Kaiaua Road, Mangatangi

 Plenty of paddock parking.

Exciting selection of rare and unusual roses and perennials for sale at the nursery plus handmade pottery, free range eggs and more!

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!

P.S. Feel free to bring any unwanted plat pots and score a free cup of tea!.

Email: or to to for more info

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.

The Miller

The Miller, what a delight! A few blooms felled by last nights welcome moisture but she has plenty to go around.

Posted by Grassroots Roses and Perennials on Saturday, November 10, 2018

Some of our perennials down in the nursery, our first open day was a huge success and our stocks were a bit depleted! But plenty coming along with many rare and interesting varieties.

Posted by Grassroots Roses and Perennials on Tuesday, November 6, 2018

I love the colour of this iris! Total Recal, a pastel beauty and a reliable repeat flowering iris. $6.50 per plant in…

Posted by Grassroots Roses and Perennials on Tuesday, November 6, 2018

One of the roses bred by us, Weiti Sherry, a gorgeous individual adorned with virtues.. extremely healthy with an excellent grown habit, gorgeous scent and a prolific repeat flowerer. Plants available now.

Posted by Grassroots Roses and Perennials on Tuesday, November 6, 2018

One of the roses bred by us, Weiti Sherry, a gorgeous individual adorned with virtues.. extremely healthy with an excellent grown habit, gorgeous scent and a prolific repeat flowerer. Plants available now.

Posted by Grassroots Roses and Perennials on Tuesday, November 6, 2018

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.