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Mid North Safari 2011

Whangarei Safari 2011- Saturday 15 October

Hosted by the Mid North Group

The hall at the Heritage Park was buzzing at 9am on Sat 15th of October, as NZ Iris members registered for Safari, caught up with old friends, and purchased plants and raffle tickets (wonderful raffles).

It was a fine but coolish morning, and we knew that like most of the country things were late as spring had been slow to arrive. However we all knew we would see lots of exciting things.

We left for the first garden at 10am, Minnie Whitehead’s in Maungatapere. This was just a lovely spot with all the natural features of volcanic rocks, bush and water.

There were some lovely Louisiana’s coming into bud in the ponds and lovely short scenic walks into patches of bush. Lots of peep peeps from the kingfishers as we enjoyed the garden or sat in one of the many attractive structures.

After a buy up of plants we travelled onto Noeline Hilliers garden, just up the road. This was also a beautiful setting with the garden surrounding the lovely old villa. There were some wonderful Spuria’s here. I was particularly smitten by the mass planting of Geranium ”Biokova” in the rose garden, lovely. Noeline has a quirky sense of humour; I especially liked ”Tea Thyme” a thyme bed accompanied by tea pots. We had a few heavy showers as we concluded our walk, so dashed to our cars & returned to the hall for lunch.

Due to Gwen Henderson’s ill health a replacement garden had been arranged in Maunu. This was a pretty little suburban garden with vegs mixed in with the flowers, some nice PC irises here. I’m sure I heard the owner say she had only been there for a year. I had heard a great deal about the quarry garden so was pleased it was on the agenda. What an achievement, we had a wonderful guided tour with the history explained to us. I was interested to see the Chorisio as I had recently planted this unusual tree in my new garden. It was very sheltered and warm in the quarry so we were pleased to have cold drinks and afternoon tea. Debbie did a roaring trade selling Louisiana irises.

A few of the visitors– the majority I suspect–called into Sciadopitys (love that name) garden centre on our way back to our accommodation. We all bought something, I think the staff were rather surprised to have this big group of customers late on a hot Saturday afternoon.

After a tidy up we all met up at 6pm for dinner and the drawing of the raffles. It had been a great day, everything had run smoothly and we had seen four very different gardens.

Thank you Mid North Group.
Janet Matthews

[click photos of Day 1 below to enlarge]

Whangarei Safari 2011- Sunday 16 October

Hosted by the Mid North Group

Our first garden on Sunday took us through Waipu Cove, past beautiful Langs Beach to Mangawhai and the garden of Annette Thompson. We were greeted with a lovely spread for morning tea and a very delightful mixed border with several PCs in flower along with many other lovely flowering plants. The lawns swept down to cover native plantings and a view of the water in the background.

We then moved on to Janet Prankerd’s garden which was set beautifully on a slope leading down to a pond. Here we saw a lovely planting of Agave set against a painted wall, a perfect picture. Iris TB ‘Berry Blush’ was in flower here but we only got a peep of colour from the Louisianas – just a bit early this year to really enjoy the irises. However, there were plenty of spring delights, Cornus, Hippeastrums and the beautiful sweep of lawn was so pleasing to the eye.

Our third garden was also in Mangawhai and was the home of Jan Grover who is a very talented artist as well as gardener. We were treated to beautiful views of Little Barrier Island. She also had a pond, lovely planting of Grevillea and native pongas with red Vireyas peeping through. Here the Iris TB ‘Zapped’ was in flower and a large clump of what we thought was I. kochii. We all admired Jan’s artwork which was on display.

Our last garden before lunch was that of Barbara Hockenhull and this was refreshingly different. Lots of interest in this garden with pottery, some TB’s in flower, Evansias, Wisteria and beautiful specimens of the Poor Knights lily. Alongside was the Smashed Pipi Gallery which displayed many very beautiful items for sale, including those made by Barbara herself.

After a very tasty lunch at the Domain, our first stop was at Chris Quin’s garden where we saw a huge display of sub-tropical plants and trees and an amazing collection of palms including Kentia, Queen and Nikau to name a few. Also on display was a beautiful specimen of Dietes robinsoniana just in first flush of flower, also called “the Wedding Iris” originating from Lord Howe Island.

Our last garden, and our last beautifully served afternoon tea before we all departed, was just out of Kaiwaka at Lyn Parker’s home. The drive swept down from the road flanked by Prunus ‘Awanui’, sweeping lawns and their home built on the edge of a very large pond.

We were greeted by a beautiful bowl of delicate flowering orchid pleione and that was only one of the treasures in this garden. We took a path down towards the lake and along a damp area where Baby’s Tears and violets grew intermingled underplanted beneath weeping willows. There were large plantings of Louisianas which again teased us by just showing colour, but lots of buds so we could only imagine what a sight it will be in a few weeks time.

This is a large garden, five acres Lyn tells us and we could only guess at how much time she must spend to keep it so immaculate. We saw Iris nelsonii in flower, Campanula glomerata ‘Caroline’, bright Kniphofia, lots of Rugosa roses just starting to bloom and shrubs and trees too many to mention.

We climbed up towards the road to a fantastic view of the garden, house and pond and on towards the hills of Pukeka with the Cattle Mounts Range in the background.

Piki Carroll thanked the Group on behalf of us all and presented Lyn Parker with the South Canterbury Species Trek Trophy for her clump of Spuria Iris orientalis.

The Mid North Group truly entertained, fed and delighted us this weekend and we are very grateful to them for their magnificent efforts.

Thank you Mid North Group.
Christina Braybrook

[click photos of Day 2 below to enlarge]