Procession of the roses!

Procession of the roses!

May heralds true Autumn, with Winter knocking on the door at times. It is still a very “growy” month though, so the garden is still looking floriferous , lots of the annuals are still doing their thing and of course the roses…

As I mentioned last month, new gardens are afoot and new roses are expected in June, so the great procession of the roses is happening in earnest. I have currently completed the move of 30  polyanthas from their former home in “The Brests” to their new home in front of the house. I call this garden “Christmas Rock” in honour of the 2 ton rock my husband delivered to me for Christmas as a centrepiece for the garden. It is also adorned by a structure my daughter and her handy partner built me for my birthday after I mentioned the need for something to show off Red Cascade! I am lucky indeed to have such input and now the roses are in and the mulch mostly laid I can start moving and planting perennials. There are also annuals in here, I think the busyness of wildflowers looks great with the understated Polyantha roses.

There’s been a fair bit of possum shooting going on over the last few weeks, not to mention a very successful fishing trip, so nearly all of the evacuees have been given a possum or some fish carcasses to soften the blow of upheaval. Not that they will mind in the least, as I’ve said before, roses love attention and being hacked back and dug up definitely comes into the category…

In other calamitous news, I have finally been forced to succumb to the modern world and procure a smart phone. My old faithful decided it couldn’t charge anymore so an urgent change over has occurred. Any minute I’ll learn how to load photos from it onto the computer and will be able to adorn my blogs with multitudes of pictures…not this month though, or this blog may never be published (started it 2 weeks ago)


Instead I will rob the facebook page again with some pictures of the real stars of the Autumn/Winter gardens, which are undoubtedly Salvias. So many start about now and flower on into the Spring, and so many others have flowered since Spring and are still flowering away like there’s no tomorrow!

In an aside, some of the early Spring Species roses are flowering already! All the Banksias, some of the Pimpinellifollias and also a sprinkling of other Once Flowerers. It’s a mixed up world we live in!

The Darling Buds of April…

The Darling Buds of April…

I’m pretty sure I’ve said some other month, maybe October or November, was my favourite month before, but I was obviously lying, as clearly April is my fave! It contains my birth date (which can be scary, especially if the year ends in a 1 and is a decade year!) and if the weather Gods are smiling (as they are this year) the Autumn rains descend and the world becomes lush and green and produces a magnificent last blast before Winter.

And that’s exactly what’s happening as I write…the roses which looked good enough on the 11th for the Open Day are producing their sublime Autumn blooms all over the show and the late or non stop perennials are looking great too. The chrysanthemums are an Autumn glory and fill the gardens with colour at this time of year.

Other things are happening too, possibly not so picturesque, but even more exciting…the digger has arrived in the garden and yesterday we had  a brief visit from “Mr Stump n Grind” which was a first for me. Currently the lawn  outside my house is a ginormous mess with a very large pit surrounded by piles of chopped off plants, mountains of soil and a mammoth mountain of very odorous sawdust/wood from the Camphor Laurel stump.

This handsome tree was planted way too close to the house around 50 years ago and was one of the first to be cut down when we bought the property in 2013. I duly painted the enormous stump with straight Glyphosate and proceeded to make a garden with the stump as a central feature. Little did I know of the habits of a Camphor Laurel and why they are declared a noxious weed in Queensland… No sooner was my garden planted and looking wonderful, than the suckers started springing up all through the area. For 7 years I have fought the suckers, hours at a time on an almost daily basis. Many valuable plants have fallen foul to a drip of Glyphosate aimed at a camphorous sprout, it has been a long and tiring battle. At this stage I’m not saying I’ve won the war, as there were some inaccessible roots left in the ground, but I can smell victory! Well actually all anyone can smell is the camphor!

March marches on

March marches on

Time flies bla bla. March is in her last week and has been rather a wonderful month to date, excepting 1 measly 5 mil shower hasn’t kept the green ball rolling as well as we would have liked. So as we approach the end of this hideous daylight saving extension, (currently ten to 7 am and still hardly dawn) Easter is looming, followed closely by our last Open Day of the season. I’m really hoping for some wet stuff before then. Currently our lovely bonus summer grass is all shriveling up and its back to all hands on hoses to keep everything in the garden looking ok.

The cattle store market could do with some rain to boost the prices too, so I can sell some before winter ! Being married to a stock agent is handy for doing well out of cattle on our 2 small farms, but one is never allowed to sell a single beast on anything but optimum markets…

Anyway…back to the subject of gardens. Despite the intermittent drought conditions we’ve been complaining about, the garden is in relatively good cheer. There has been very little die back this season so some of the smaller weakly plants have attained a better size. There are always those that appear to fade for reasons unknown and my answer to this is pretty much always MOVE IT. Roses cope with moving very well, especially if they are unhappy in their current position. It’s always better to wait for the Autumn rains to arrive before you start moving things, but if they are unhappy there’s no time like the present, so long as they are moving to a position within easy reach of the hose. If it’s still growing season a very hard chop back is required and whilst they may look dead soon after moving, invariably they will sprout away in a week or two and so long as they approve of their new position, will soon bound away. Often if it’s still Summer or early Autumn when I feel a rose needs saving, I put it in a suitably sized pot for ease of watering and leave it there till it gets away and fills its pot with roots when it can be planted in a new position with little disturbance.

When I moved my extensive garden up North down to the Waikato, I moved many hundreds of mature roses, many of which had become deeply unhappy in my increasingly neglected old garden. I think in the end I had 3 roses which failed to grow again, the majority by far took on a new lease of life . Also, disturbing roses and replanting deep often encourages them to slough off the root stock and make their own roots. As the main aim in my life is to get all my roses growing on their own roots, this suited my purpose well!

There is going to be a lot of rosacious movement at 761 Kaiaua Rd this Autumn/Winter as bold plans are afoot in both gardens.

The making of a new border (if you’re an artist and a perfectionist!)

My daughter has appropriated a 4th  horse paddock into her garden (very small paddocks to be fair) which is a rolling hill face with a steep back to it. She plans on planting “wild” roses (big once flowerers) on this steep part, with un tamed grass in between. and has created a cool garden close to the house. I’ve named it “Rose Hill” but I don’t think she has…

Some of the really too big Old Fashioneds in my border are heading in that direction. Of course you can cut them back all the time, but I like them to grow to their full potential if you’ve got the space. They’ll be replaced by a selection of new old roses which I’ve ordered  mostly from Tasman Bay. No doubt in time they will also grow too big, but them’s the breaks!

Meanwhile in my messy unartistic garden I’ve run out of room for new roses. I tend to be a plantsperson rather than a proper gardener and really are more into collecting plants….especially roses!! Many of the Old Fashioned roses are getting harder to get hold of and disappearing from commerce in NZ, so in a moment of madness (probably after 1 glass of Shiraz too many) I decided to order all the OF roses Tasman Bay has on its current catalogue if I didn’t already have them. Hence I’m expecting about 100 new roses in June. OOPS…Hence the need for some new space. I still have room for more Teas and older HTs on my “Tea Bank” which was born in lockdown last Autumn, but now I need room for a major influx of True OFs and Hybrid Perpetuals. lovely grassy roundabout is having to be transformed into the new Polyantha and Floribunda garden, which all have to be moved from their current homes to make way for the new guys on the block. FUN!

Tea roses start getting truly happy in Autumn, ready to rock on thru the Winter. Archiduc Joseph is no exception.

Hence also why April 11th will probably be our last Open Day till Spring by which time hopefully all transformations will be complete!

3 Cheers for a normal Summer!

3 Cheers for a normal Summer!

February is here, surely the worst Summer month in the garden (some would argue the worst month, period) The days are the hottest and the sun is the sizzliest. Trying to get new little things in the ground to fill gaps is a battle…miss a day of watering and they’re history, every day is a battle to keep the garden alive for the Open Days!!!

Then whammo, a beautiful summer storm, just like Niwa promised us this season! We are protected from the Easterly wind, so just love these events, cos we don’t get the gale force wind, just the life giving rain, falling gently from the sky. Even some not so gentle today, and we’re currently sitting on nearly 30 mil with more promised for tomorrow. Hallelujah!!! What a difference to ones outlook some wet stuff makes. For several days to come I can concentrate on pulling out the newly germinated weeds instead of watering. Yay.

Open day hopefully looming this weekend, Covid depending. Looking hopeful at this stage and the weather looks great for it too and the grass will be green instead of brown!

I love walking in the garden in the rain during summer, you can literally hear the plants drinking and singing happy songs. No water from your hose can ever make a plant happy (well a rose in any case) like they’re happy in the rain. The things that I can’t water (can’t water everything or I ‘d never get anything else done…) like the Hydrangeas have all perked up this afternoon and no longer look like SPCA cases.

The roses have done well this season, we’ve only had a couple of bouts of nasty humidity so the diseases that threatened to consume in the Spring have been kept at bay by some intermittent spraying of the most disease prone. The other really good news is that the local possum population has also stayed down this summer. My tenacious little German Spitz is an excellent possum spotter and can indeed move on to killing them if she can get the right hold on them. Mostly she chases them up trees and then “shows”. With no training whatsoever she sits at the base of the tree just like a drug dog at the airport! Only problem is it’s dark and nobody knows she’s “showing”! Chances are I’ve let her out and forgotten all about her. Sometimes she has to show for hours before I realise she’s missing and go out with a torch to find her sitting patiently under a tree waiting for someone with a gun to appear!

Anyway, as luck, or possibly good management, will have it , there hasn’t been much “showing” this summer, so the roses have had a good break and the tiny cuttings ones that were in danger of dying last summer have managed to attain a viable size.

Maman Cochet’s Spring blooms are usually big balls of mush…Autumn is a different story

Well I still haven’t bought that I phone and February has moved onto March. Weeks passing by for want of an original photo…As it has become Autumn in the meantime the roses are starting to make some nicer blooms. The summer flowers are so floppy and fast,,,some drop their petals as they open. The autumnal ones are always my favourite, not the abundance and largesse of Spring, but some real class blooms start to appear at this time of year (depending on whether you get enough rain to produce them!)

Autumn flowers from the Austin gardens, these were picked in April following good Autumn rains

The big heat descends…

The big heat descends…

We’ve certainly had some hot days already this Summer, some records I believe. We’ve also had some nice dousings of rain, a hail storm, a 7mil and a glorious 21 mil last week. Glad to say we missed out on all the flooding dumps that most of the country had. While that was blasting about the country we remained in an isolated circle of fine.

Upshot being the garden is growing well and we also had bumper crops of hay and baleage.

Whoops some weeks have passed since I started to write that blog…got busy leading up to the Open day on the 17th which was very successful.

Not much has changed though, its still hot and we’re still getting some helpful sprinkles of rain so things are still relatively green. Certainly a big improvement on this time last year!

Now the January Open Day is over maybe I can breathe and relax for a bit? But no, less than 4 weeks till the Feb Open day and 3 garden groups to boot. So much to do at this time of year in the garden! Have been busy with choppers and spade pulling out /trimming back masses of past their use by date perennials and annuals. Then of course there must be weeding and fertilising, then planting some new things in the massive gaps which have opened up. Finally the watering, which is pretty ongoing for anything you plant between now and April which is why you need to be careful how many areas you hack and replant or the next 3 months will be a constant round of watering…

A note about trimming/roses in summer…There are Once Flowering roses (Species, gallicas Damasks etc) and Repeat Flowering roses (Hybrid Perpetuals, Polyanthas, Portlands etc) then there’s the Continuous Flowerers! These Modern Roses  (along with Old Fashioned Chinas and Teas) are almost never without a bloom. Many of the David Austins are in this category too. When it comes to trimming them you have 3 options. 1. Get out there on a pretty much daily basis and cut off the flowers as soon as they are spent (probably not an option if you have as many as me…) 2. Ignore until the whole flush is over, then cut back quite hard . In doing so you will be cutting off new buds forming behind the earlier flowers. Seems a shame, but it’s the same as trimming daisies etc, you gotta be cruel to keep the right effect 3. Continue ignoring into eternity. This is what happens to a lot of mine and the upshot is the bushes get very big… I actually love dead heading and trimming and would happily spend all day doing it, but sadly there are usually more pressing jobs on the agenda. The thing about roses is, they are so tough it doesn’t really matter what you do to them, THEY WILL SURVIVE! This is a line I have recently read on various perennials for sale in garden centres about the place. Its usually on a gazania or osteospermum or the like. I WILL SURVIVE they declare, meaning they are drought tolerant, which is all the craze these days. The thing is, the original plain species of these are indeed drought tolerant, but the ones offered in the garden centres are very far removed from their forebears and have been hybridised to hell and back. Let me tell you they most certainly will not survive a drought, a rose would have an infinitely stronger chance of surviving!

A summery shot stolen from facebook of lady of shallott

Well that was an unexpected waffle. It’s all to do with putting off the moment of truth when I must “Add Media”. Photo time and once again I will have to steal from the facebook page covered in nice photos my daughter has taken on her iphone. It’s time to admit to luddite tendencies which I harbour. ie my phone is ten years old, an army phone WITH BUTTONS. I’ve been putting off the moment when I must join the world and learn to touch glass. I dread it, but at least I may then be able to quickly take and download photos without a. finding the camera (probably at the stables) b. charging the camera (gotta find the charger too)then c. downloading photos onto my computer which has recently become impossible for common man since an unscheduled update my computer ran. So there you go…too hard…just steal another off the facebook page. Maybe by my next blog I’ll have an iphone.

The Silly Season is here!

The Silly Season is here!

Christmas done and dusted, how lucky we all are to be in NZ and gather with our families at this time, unlike most of the world. My family gathering was a bit early, we celebrated on the 23 rd while the Southern arm were in the right Island, so it’s all over for me and I’m left in glorious solitude to battle with the garden.

And I gotta say it is a bit of a battle for me at this time of year, I can’t handle the heat the way I could in my younger days, so its an early start for me and a late finish, with the hot part of the day (that is most of the day…) either in the house or the potting shed. We are very blessed to have such a wonderful shed to work in, with great airflow with huge roller doors at either end. I can manage quick forays out into the merciless sun to load and unload my trolleys, then back to the lovely cool of the shed. Buying a property off a major vintage car enthusiast was definitely a very good idea…sheds everywhere!

A December highlight for us was the arrival of the Drillforce team. A very clever water diviner found a likely spot for us and 3 days drilling has given us a new bore with an output of 7.4 cubic metres per hour of lovely underground water. Once we get the pump guys and electrician in,we’ll have a magnificent new bore that shouldn’t quail however long the drought is. This is going to be a huge relief to us thru the coming summer. Of course I would prefer some rain so I don’t have to hold the hose…

Back to roses. The old fashioneds have had a great show this season and are only just finishing up their last flowers. Now is the time to give them some serious amendment if they’re being naughty, and cuttings can be struck from them at the same time. The David Austins and other repeat flowering roses can also do with a trim, feed and water to encourage the next flush.

We are planning on having an Open Day on January 17th, we have lots of new perennials and roses coming on that should be ready to sell by then. Don’t expect too much glamour in the garden…no garden helpers at the mo and there always seems to be too much to do. At least the lack of rain slows weed germination/growth down!


Still lots of colour about at the moment tho, the asters and dahlias are all starting (early of course, like everything has been this season) and the chrysanthemums are not far behind. These, along with lots of sunset toned perennials are the stalwarts of the autumn garden. And the alstroemerias of course, they just never stop!

So I guess that’s it for 2020, a very different year it’s been, but a good one for us here at Kaiaua.



One more Open Day!

One more Open Day!

On Sunday we’ll be hosting the last open day for 2020. What an interesting and tumultuous year it has been. Including in the world and in the garden.

We’ll forget the whole world thing at the moment, and concentrate on the garden…

In the true fair pattern of the seasons, we had the first half of the year experiencing the worst drought ever recorded in this (and many other) region. It seemed it would never rain enough to right the world! But we had nice steady bits of rain thru the winter, and for us it has carried on coming nicely through the Spring. Whilst one would imagine such a long drought would have had a bad effect on this season’s flowering and production, it seems it is the opposite and everything has been having a bumper season, from the Winter/Spring bulbs to the fruit trees and the roses.

Nanus Gladiola “The Bride” put on a great show in late Spring

According to the pundits, we’re going to have a warm, wet summer, which is great for the growing, but bad for the fungus and bugs. Despite only a very short period of humidity so far, there is already alarming amounts of downy mildew and blackspot in the roses. Out trundles the sprayer…speaking of which I have a new “fleet” of sprayers, which are sort of trolleys you tow along. A huge improvement on backpacks. No aching shoulders and you can just stop when interrupted by the phone (or possibly when you accidentally spray a treasure with round up) sort the problem, and carry on where you left off. Time will tell whether they’re value for money, but at this stage I’m finding them a wonderful addition.

In the meantime, despite disease, wind and rain, the garden is having its month of splendour. Some things drawing to a close, others still in full flight, and many still waiting in the wings! Basically at this time of year the scent of roses assaults the nostrils on approach (if it’s not too windy and blowing it away!) and one can spend a lot of time looking at things up close…

Please come and enjoy on Sunday.

The clemati are doing their annual OTT thing


Some old lost friends have returned to the garden, glad to see Camaieux’s smiling face again!



This must be what we were waiting for!

This must be what we were waiting for!

Ah November! It is definitely the month if you’re a rose grower. And November 2020 is certainly shaping up to be a good one in the garden.

Most years as November approaches I think the roses are going to be early, and each year they arrive in November on time, but this year they really are early and as we hit the first of the month many of the repeaters were already going for it, and even the oncers had started to open blooms.

We had a local garden group through last week and despite it still being October, most of the roses had at least something to show.

This coming weekend we have an Open Day, and for those of you who like to smell the flowers, I strongly recommend trying to come along.

Late October, the Austins are starting to flower already, in the background the Banksias are still going for it

Judging from the early Species, it’s going to be a very good rose year. They opened exceptionally  early (some in June!) and they’ve just kept on going. The Banksias in particular, also Indica Major and Ecae have been flowering for months.

Rain is still hard to come by, but we’ve had enough gentle dousings to keep everything moving along well. The roses certainly look better if not being continually sodden, so ideally the summer storms they’re warning us of will come when the roses have done their main dash…don’t ask for much, eh. It’s so much the two sided coin, with wanting fine weather for garden visitors and getting crops in etc, but desperate to not have a repeat of last year’s drought.

Sneak Preview having a blast in October

Other than the roses, the rest of the garden is also developing into a sea of colours. The Irises are also particularly good this season, with several opening that have never flowered before in my garden…quite exciting!

So onward and upward, no more time for computers, I have an overly exuberant garden to try and deal with and currently no help…except pain killers!

Is it in the genes?

Is it in the genes?

I’m not talking rose genetics here, but human…My life has been pretty well made up of horses and gardens. I grew up in the suburbs with parents not too interested in animals, but both heavily into gardening. However, both my grandfathers were horse mad.

My French grandfather, a pioneer in the Australian wheatbelt, adored all his horses…after his team of Clydesdales was made defunct by a tractor, he insisted on keeping them all till they died (actually he died first and his heartless son sent them off…) despite the fact that they had to be fed grain and hay and taken daily to the water hole for a drink (no grass available in Wyalkatchem! )He also kept a racehorse (Sombre Vol) who was raced at the local meets.

My paternal Grandfather, Sam Hamilton, kept Trotters on his dairy farm in the Waerenga Valley. In 1910 he set off on foot, leading his latest prospect Floranz , with the sulky on behind , from the Waikato, up over the Bombays and on to Auckland. He drove his horse in the Auckland Trotting Cup (now the NZ Pacing Cup) and won! Story goes he won a hundred pounds and a silver service. Story goes he stayed in Auckland celebrating till the hundred pounds was gone, then walked back home with the silver service.

So there you have it…the genes jumped a generation and all 3 of the ” Hamilton girls” have been into horses all their lives!

So when I produced a daughter I dreamed of her being a rider and one day riding the horses I had been breeding for some years.

Mission accomplished some years ago. She has been riding “Weiti” horses on the show jumping circuit since her early teens. But recently her tastes have changed somewhat and horses have become her work rather than her passion. Her passion has become …GARDENING!!! And sadly, just as she has been a way better rider than I ever was, her garden now makes mine look like the very poor cousin.


Whilst my garden is just a hodge podge of roses and plants , hers is small but perfectly formed. She has the eye of an artist, which I severely lack. Luckily I like hodge podges and am happy in my own mess!

Anyway, this has been a very silly blog and not about roses at all…the story on the roses is they are about to be splendid and I think they’re going to be very splendid this year, judging by the early ones. The Banksias started recordly early in  winter and are still going strong! All the other early species are at it and the first garden roses are showing colour in their plump buds.


In the blink of an eye…

In the blink of an eye…

I only wrote a week ago and it was winter then, but we seem to have turned a corner on Sunday at the Open day and suddenly the garden is feeling like Spring. The mounds of aquilegia foliage are all suddenly sending leaping flower heads upwards, the leaves on the roses are emerging in Spring “largeness” and I think we may finally be past the sub 5 deg nights, allowing warmth lovers to emerge from slumber.

The glory of the aquilegias in full flight is imminent!

We had great luck with the weather for the Open day, finally the wind dropped and early drizzle cleared to a lovely sunny day. We had lots of people out enjoying the weather and the gardens and even more buying up big! Our shelves were pretty much emptied so we’ve decided to skip the October day and stage the next on November 8th when the roses should be really gearing up and we have more cuttings and seedlings grown on for sale.

A Spring drought is quite unusual in the Waikato, but not unheard of. Our current rainfall for the first month must be about a quarter or less of the average. Small douses have encouraged grass and plant growth, but the ground in places is ridiculously dry. Alice and I have been exploring local plant suppliers and buying lots of things for gaps in gardens. Usually planting at this time of year doesn’t even require watering in, but so far the hose or bucket is a necessary post planting tool. I’ve heard we’re meant to be having a wet Spring, so fingers crossed it arrives in October…for the garden and the Hunua dam across the road which is Auckland’s main water supply.

On the plus side, being able to work in the garden without gumboots and drive around the farm in the car makes life more comfortable!

I’m off to the potting shed to continue potting up gazillion veg and flower seedlings, excess will be for sale at our November Open day…