Wettest Winter on record!

Very few frosts this Winter, too busy raining…

Well on my records anyway. I believe Kaiaua officially recorded 347 mil of rain for the month of July, and guess what???August ain’t looking a lot better. To be fair we had 2 nice patches of frosty fine weather and things dried up a lot, but in between many more rain events, one of which we’re currently living through. Still, we’re a lot better off than the top and west coast of the South Island, one can only look on the bright side! One of which is bright for Auckland’s coming Summer, as the Hunua dams, situated about a km up the road from us, are overflowing for the first time in many many years, so hopefully the Auckland gardeners will be able to squander water on veg and roses this coming Summer!

August is well past half over and that means we are mere days away from Spring…eeek! I am so behind with my Winter tasks. I like to give all the roses a good drench in fungicide once a year while they’re resting in Winter and I’m afraid that mightn’t happen this season. Maybe we’ll get some fine days next week and thankfully I now have a 100 litre tank on my buggy which I can fill up and whizz around without having to hump tanks on my back. It will need to dry up a bit first though.

The violets are all doing their thing in August

Then there’s the Winter weed and amendment. Usually my darling daughter lends me a hand with this, but unfortunately it hasn’t been suitable “baby in the garden” weather and she also has her own extensive garden to try to whip into shape, so it’s been pretty much just gimpy old me plugging away a bit at a time. Trailer loads of weeds and trimmings get taken up to the hungry cows who have a great time sifting thru it finding tasty morsels. They like buttercup, believe it or not, and there’s certainly plenty of that on offer! I have plugged my way down the big border and it has been mulched behind me by my garden saviour, Aaron. So that’s one garden tidied. Unfortunately whilst tarrying in bed with a cup of tea the other morning, avoiding getting up and at ’em, I counted my gardens and sadly the total is 18. That’s only counting the 8 beds in the David Austin Garden as 1!!! Luckily that can be controlled to some extent with glyphosate as their is no underplanting between the roses. However, that still leaves 16 filled with weeds and overgrown perennials and shrubs to deal with. If you’re planning on coming to our Spring Open Days, please keep these numbers in mind and be prepared for quite a few “au natural” sights…

Golden elm coming into flower

Then besides the Herculean garden tasks requiring attention, not to mention a lot more horse and cattle work that I usually have to manage alone, there is the ever present NURSERY looming over me. As I weed and prune, I can’t help myself “saving” bits and sticks to pass on to someone in the future and hopefully make a few bucks out of them. This means after every garden session I then need to have a nursery session to process the “bits”. I spent a bit of time down in our magnificent shed this morning. Too wet for weeding, so I got on with potting up rooted rose and perennial cuttings for future sale. Luckily we received a lovely delivery of 7m of prime, slightly damp potting mix from Daltons a couple of weeks ago, so I can pot things up and leave them inside till the weather becomes more inviting for tender roots. We lose quite a proportion of cuttings post potting, and I think too much water has a damning effect on them. To this end I put a lot of the “precious” ones in the glasshouse this Winter to try and avoid this problem. Plenty still die, and one has to remember to water them! Easy to forget during endless rainy days! At this stage I can hardly walk in the door, they’re going to have to leave the building in a week or two to make room for seedling trays.

OH oh…it’s happened again. It’s now August 31st and I haven’t got back to my draft. I’ve been super busy in the garden and nursery, with the first Open Day scheduled for September 18th, less than 3 weeks away! My miserly order arrived from Tasman Bay, not much left available for little old me! I believe there is a general shortage of roses in NZ currently, due to 2 years of bad seasons with Covid keeping budders from Europe out and the casual back packing staff for the lifting also locked out. These things have a lasting knock on effect and many different businesses around the country and indeed the world went out of business – killed by Covid.

Anyway, the good news is our business is doing fine as we don’t rely on anyone outside our bubble. It appears to have been a bumper year for the cuttings and I’m potting up lots of exciting new “takes” every day. In a few weeks when I know they’re going to make it thru the potting process, I’ll spend a bit of time with the perennially out of date website and introduce them. In the meantime the 5th beautiful day in a row (!!!) is beckoning and I must go pull some weeds.


Random photo of one of my favourite Old roses, the Moss, Mme Louis Leveque