Hello, and a big welcome to my August newsletter – thank you all so much for reading my rambling emails, and thanks also to those that send me lovely, and sometimes entertaining anecdotes in return, it is very much appreciated even if I don’t always get time to respond. There have been numerous newcomers to my mailing list in the past month, so thank you for signing up and I hope you enjoy hearing from me 😊
Gosh it’s so good to see the sun today! Sitting here at my desk in Golden Bay looking out at the glorious blue sky, I could be forgiven for forgetting that yesterday I was driving through slushy snow as I made my third trip over the infamous Takaka Hill for the week…I have definitely had enough of that for now, but that is what being a parent is all about sometimes isn’t it…just being there. There are so many road closures today of course…heavy snow in both islands…but I hope this sunshine sticks around for a few days to make up for it!
There hasn’t been an awful lot of happenings to report on in the garden and nursery recently, as winter is largely about hibernation for plants. But the production line has been in full swing, so not so lucky for me…I’m sure that some weeks I would love to disappear off into my own little world and not come out, but that is not going to happen when there is so much to be done! Actually, for the past 6 weeks I seem to have been in an endless state of revolving pairs of gloves. That sounds hilariously strange I know, but the reality of sowing and pricking-out, lifting and dividing, and endless potting-up means that my best friends are my garden gloves, which end up soggily wet and cold and need changing frequently! With such a wet winter the division of the hardy perennials has proved to be quite a challenge at times, but I’m pleased to say the majority of plants that were on the pre-orders list have made it out of the mud and into pots now…including lots of Helenium, various different Aster, the terracotta Achillea, some Phlox, Kniphofia and Rudbeckia, and plenty of others as well. There will always be something left to do though…this morning that gorgeous soft apricot Chrysanthemum got the ‘you’re next’ look from me!
Out in the garden the spring bulbs are really starting to look great now. There are various clumps of Sparaxis just starting to flower, so far in crimson, smoky pink, and cream. The Muscari, or grape hyacinths are out…I love their bright blue flowers which seem to stand up to the weather so well. The old single-flowered jonquils have almost finished, ‘Erlicheer’ is in full flower, and the sweet little daffodil that I’m sure is a Narcissus minor cultivar is just getting started. It is about half the size of what I call a standard daffodil, very free flowering, and seems to have scattered itself about the garden rather well…it’s looking particularly good just in front of the clumps of Chionochloa flavicans where swathes of grassy foliage are punctuated with the cheerful yellow of the daffodils. The older varieties of Helleborus orientalis are also such good value at this time of year, paying homage to their title of winter rose. I love the newer varieties too of course, but I have masses of the older ones here, self-sown over many years in a range of different pinks and whites, with all sorts of spots, shapes and sizes. I find they are so tough and vigorous compared to some of the newer models, handle any soil condition and can be treated quite ruthlessly really – and the reward is always endless flowers for months!
In the potted bulb department there are many luscious treasures beginning to appear. Lachenalia in all shapes and sizes, the first buds on various Moraea, willowy stems of species Gladiolus, delicate little miniature Narcissus, Romulea in searing hot pink and bright yellow too, some of the tamer Oxalis have been in flower for a while now and I never tire of them. The Freesia are about to burst into flower…I can’t wait for my favourite Freesia fergusoniae, the number one scent in the world I think. I look forward to it every year!
I only have a few extra plants to add to the existing listings in the online shop this week, but perhaps they will tempt you….
Aquilegia caerulea hybrid ‘Kristall’
Digitalis lanata ex. cream flowered form
Heuchera maxima (few only)
Salvia virgata – bicolor form (few only)
You can buy them directly from me by sending me an email, or you can order and pay for them online via my website here https://www.seaflowersnursery.co.nz/perennials.html#/
Now that my lunch has digested I’m off back out into the sunshine…perhaps it is all the driving I’ve done in the past week, but I feel like I need a bit of vitamin D today to chase away the tiredness! I hope wherever you are this week that the sun shows up for you too 😊 Kate
Well after seemingly endless weeks and weeks of rain during which I, along with half the nation, got thoroughly sick of puddling about in mud, we have had the most amazing week of SUNSHINE. And FROSTS! Woohoo…I know I sound ever so slightly nuts, especially given that some of the garden is looking a bit sad, with shrivelled up or blackened foliage on many plants, but frost kills bugs. And I love that.
I haven’t lost anything to frost damage that I can see, but I always find it quite intriguing to see some plants blackened while their immediate neighbours are sitting there looking remarkably cheerful and wondering what all the fuss is about. It reminds me to think about where I place things in the garden, and to think about where they naturally grow in the wild too, so I can try and replicate rather than manipulate nature within my own microclimate.
I am loving the sunshine though…a good dose of vitamin D cheers up the senses immensely. As I wrote on Facebook/Instagram the other day, there's something about winter sunshine that is so very different from its summer counterpart...the light is softer, cool but slightly faded around the edges...a bit like your favourite old pair of jeans...and then slanting in at just the right angle to bathe winter flowers and foliage in a warm glow...so that you can almost feel the promise of spring just around the corner. I had been for a wander around the garden in between jobs and found that the light was accentuating certain parts of the garden beautifully…the first Hellebores, one an amazing single picotee with an exquisite ruffled centre, the blue Omphalodes, the deep violet of that silly Geranium which insists on flowering in the middle of winter…even the Euphorbia characias ssp. wulfenii seedling looked nice…up until now it has looked like the flowerheads will be a distinctly uninteresting colour akin to dirty dishwater.
Today I’ve been out and admired the first flowers on Salvia univerticillata, which is making a wonderful job of sprawling in a nice mound next to one of those slightly variegated flax bushes in the garden. On its own the flax was on the ‘endangered’ list in my garden...it very nearly got the chop…but with the softly hairy bright green leaves of the Salvia next to it, it was spared…and now the Salvia is wending its way through the flax and it looks fabulous…I’m so glad I left it…and the birds get the benefit of the nectar from the flowers. Red is a colour that draws the eye in, creating a focal point or a 'pop' of colour in the garden...and if I had to have a favourite red Salvia then S. univerticillata would be it. The flowers are like gorgeous fuzzy red bumblebees...all soft and hairy and cute...born in whorls along the sprawling stems…the clusters of flowers held outwards, like a hand of chubby little fingers reaching out to say a warm hello. I must take some more cuttings now that it is well established again here, as it’s such a useful plant to have and unlike many Salvias does really well in light shade.
I’ve finally got the winter bulb list out to those customers that requested it. Just a small list of mostly Crocosmia…let me know if you’d like a copy emailed and I will send it through. Despite the cold weather and lack of actual gardening going on at this time of year, the nursery is in a constant state of production…everything that could be propagated is on the to-do list and there are pots of seedlings, cuttings and divisions everywhere…and the number is growing by the day. I almost feel like I have to run to keep up with everything at this time of year…like suddenly spring will be here and I won’t be ready! It’s so easy to look at the list of what I have to do yet and feel overwhelmed…but I just have to remind myself of everything I have done to date, and then tackle it all one job at a time.
There are of course a few plants that are ready to go now, so below is a list of plants freshly added to the website...you can find descriptions (and in most cases photos) of them on the website too. Please get in touch if you’d like to order something via email rather than purchasing online…which you can do here https://www.seaflowersnursery.co.nz/perennials.html#/
Digitalis purpurea ‘Dalmatian White’
Echinops sphaerocephalus ‘Arctic Glow’
Gaura ‘Cool Breeze’
I think we’re due for a bit of rain again this week, which I won’t mind after a week of fine weather…fingers crossed for some more of this sunshine after that though!
Happy gardening…or keeping warm inside 😊
Thank you so much to everyone that bought plants during my May Madness Sale…with emphasis on the madness for me…it was quite crazy for a couple of weeks there. Obviously you all love a good sale! The nursery has become a bit empty since then, but I’m filling it up again as quick as I can. The dreary, drizzly weather doesn’t really inspire me to get out there amongst the wet plants and muddy garden so I decided it was high time I updated the website listings and sent out another newsy email…from the comfort of my office desk. With the heater on.
I’ve been making lists recently. Am I the only one who writes lists and then puts them into spreadsheets and then uses them to make more lists…of jobs that need doing? My original list consists of plants that I’m likely to be propagating for sale within the next 6-8 months. It’s a work in progress, always subject to changes and additions of course…and it’s now transforming itself into several other lists…plants to dig, divide and pot-up to fill pre-orders, specific customers’ lists of different plants that all need to be ready at the same time, lists of seeds to sow in order of preference, lists of cuttings to take…and the ultimate potting-up list which is getting longer and longer. It’s seriously exciting stuff really, but I guess you’d have to be a plant addict like me to get excited by a list like that 😉
The first of the winter and spring flowers are starting now…jonquils, snow flakes and the earliest Hellebores in the garden. The first Oxalis are out in their pots, with O. purpurea alba looking spectacular when the sun shines. Lachenalia punctata is still colourful but almost finished, but there are plenty of other types to come, along with so many other little treasures. I’ve been digging and sorting various Crocosmia and other summer-flowering bulbs and corms, so I hope to have a list of these available within the next month…slow progress I know but all good things come to those that wait I guess.
I’ve added quite a few new varieties to the website today, lots of Salvias, some in good quantities, and others…well you will have to be super fast! The website has photos (in most cases) and descriptions of the plants which always come in handy when you’re trying to decide what to put where.
You can find the plants here https://www.seaflowersnursery.co.nz/perennials.html#/ scroll down and click on the A-Z of all plants which will bring up all the current listings.
Here’s what has just been added today:
Agastache cana ‘Bolero’
Limonium caspium ‘Dazzling Blue’
Salvia aurea ‘Kirstenbosch’
Salvia ‘Black Knight’
Salvia confertiflora ‘Meg’ (peach-flowered form ex. ‘Papagaio’)
Salvia ‘Costa Rica Blue’
Salvia sclarea ‘Vatican White’
Scabiosa atropurpurea ‘Black Knight’
Happy plant hunting…and gardening if the weather is right 😊
Well it has been exactly a year since I became part of the Golden Bay community, and in my own backyard, the coolest little community up the Pohara Valley. I was reflecting on this as I travelled home from Auckland yesterday, having attended the IPPS conference in Hamilton. One of the things that struck me is that in the past year I seem to have met some truly wonderful and inspiring people, some of whom I know I will be friends with forever. I feel like New Zealand is home to this big melting pot of vibrant personalities, all so unique in what we do and how we interact with others...the key is to find the ones you really connect with and then hold on to them, make them smile the way they make you smile. Happiness is truly underrated. So, to everyone who has made the past year so colourful for me – thank you, you are all totally awesome!
Seeing as I’m feeling so warm and fluffy on the inside (while the weather is freezing outside) I thought I would create a little bit more Happy May Madness and have a sale. YAY! As of the moment you receive this newsletter, everything is now 40% off…the sale ends 31st May 2021, so get in quick while stocks last. I haven’t added any new stock to the website other than some Silene alba, but there will be new plants to add in June, and in the meantime I will continue on with all the propagation jobs that seem to be piling up here…I go a way for a week and suddenly there’s so much to do!
The garden has mostly gone into a state of decay and decline, with all sorts of things curling up ready for winter. But there are still some gems…the gorgeous bright lemon yellow Kniphofia is now in full flower, still in its ‘temporary’ home near the back of the vege garden. It should have been moved as it’s a big one and likely to take over in the rich soil in there, but I couldn’t think of where to put it until now…it will be heading off to the bottom of the driveway so it can stop traffic with its huge flowerheads down there. Not sure when…maybe when I’m feeling seriously strong one day soon, as it’s huge! The Plectranthus fruticosus hybrids ‘James’ and ‘Behr’s Pride’ are both looking magnificent, the latter is just coming into full flower, with large panicles of rich mauve pink which contrast fabulously with the dark stems and reverse of the leaves. Lots of the Salvias are still putting on a colourful show…the luminous red Salvia splendens ‘Yvonne’ is now at head height, S. iodantha is just beginning to show off its stems of vibrant magenta, S. madrensis is shimmering buttery-lemon yellow in the autumn sunshine, and ‘Indigo Spires’ continues to send out long deep violet spikes, reminding me of octopus tentacles. The beautiful red flowers of S. univerticillata and S. gesneriiflora compact form will come out later in the winter and early spring, at just the right time…when we need a boost of bright colour to give us a lift on those cold gloomy days.
A little bit of housekeeping before I sign off…next weeks orders will be sent out on Tuesday 18th May as I have meetings on Monday, my apologies but it can’t be helped.
Happy plant hunting – you can find the plants for sale here https://www.seaflowersnursery.co.nz/store/c32/A-Z_of_all_plants_.html#/
Well it’s Friday again, gosh that seems to roll around quickly…suddenly it’s the end of the week and I’m sure it was just the beginning yesterday! Guess time flies when you’re busy!
I will get straight into the plants available today, before I forget what I’m going to write about them. I have lots of different foxgloves/Digitalis coming on, some available now, with more perennial lines ready in the next month. From now on is the ideal time to be planting them and other perennials - they love the autumn weather, when the soils are just the right texture for planting, with regular spells of rain to settle them in. It also means they get to build up a strong root system over the winter/early spring period, before flowering in summer. Sometimes, with ‘first-year-flowering’ plants (Digitalis, Agastache, Echinacea are just a few examples), if they’re planted in spring they have a tendency to fill out a little, then because the day length and temperatures tell them to they shoot up into flower, with not much of a root system underneath. So even if they make it through their first summer they tend to be weaker plants overall, if that makes sense!
Anyway, looking good in the nursery this week are some of the Salvia species, like macrophylla and involucrata var. puberula ‘El Butano’ with it’s lovely soft pale green leaves…it’s contrasting well with the bronze tones of the species Fuchsia hybrid ‘First Success’, the little native rock lily/dwarf rengarenga Arthropodium candidum ‘Purpureum’ has a lovely new crop of mottled leaves, the field Scabious Knautia arvensis are looking very lush, Plectranthus fruticosus ‘James’ is flowering beautifully, plus the foxgloves are putting on lots of growth of course. Here’s a list of a few things I’ve added to the website this week…
Digitalis mertonensis – strawberry foxglove
Erysimum mutabile (wallflower, syn. Cheiranthus mutabilis)
Salvia gesneriiflora ‘Compact Form’
Thalictrum lucidum – few only
I have been busy potting plants lately, I seem to have trays and trays of babies everywhere. I’m also beginning with some “unpotting’ too….starting to sort out summer flowering bulbs now that they are slowly dying down for the winter. It will be a long process as they tend to lapse into decay at different rates. I have to restrict myself with seed sowing…one tray of punnets potted-on equals one tray of seeds sow, or sometimes two trays if I feel like the weather and moon are aligning well for good germination. But really I have to be strict with myself…some days I fail miserably, others I have more will power…seeds are a never ending addiction 😉
I have also been cutting back various perennials, getting them ready for winter, and assessing them for lifting and dividing...parts of the garden now look pretty bare but there are still a lot of plants looking amazing, particularly the shrubs and bushy perennials in the shade garden, and some of the autumn flowering Salvia. Yesterday, as I was weeding in amongst various plants in the back of one border…probably with twigs, leaves and bits of dead flower parts in my hair as so often happens…I brushed up against Salvia discolor. Normally this would result in me feeling like I’d just come into contact with something akin to a sticky suction pad…like a gecko’s foot perhaps…as the stems are rather tenacious. But no, yesterday I stopped and was so delighted I stroked that plant again, several times in fact…it smelt delicious! Sort of fruity like pineapple, except with a sweeter almost lingering hint of vanilla. How I had never noticed this before I do not know…but it was a memorable moment of enjoyment...a time to pause and take in my surroundings. I moved along that garden and by the time I was halfway through the job I realised I was really growing a smorgasbord of aromas…the scent of Nicotiana leaves is freshly-crushed something…almost grassy perhaps? Rose-scented aniseed from the Agastache, an almost medicinal minty encounter with Plectranthus fruticosus ‘Behr’s Pride’, the complex scent of Monarda or bergamot foliage reminds me of fresh herbs, like orange thyme and oregano put together…my aromatic encounter was rounded off with the ‘bowl of fresh fruit salad’ Salvia spathacea which is so deliciously scented that you almost want to eat it. Of course all of these plants have flowers at various times of the year, but they also have foliage, and it’s that foliage which is winning my heart over more and more. The leaves of plants are there to see, touch and sniff for a long period of the year, so our senses are perhaps more wholly satisfied, rather than just our eyes when we spot the first flowers we’ve been waiting impatiently for all year. Flowers are fabulous and I wouldn’t be without them…but foliage adds so much more to the garden than I have ever given it credit for…so I shall keep on acquiring more of it!
It is definitely autumn now. I know this because the crickets are chirping, there is a distinct autumnal crispness in the morning and evening air, and I’ve had to start wearing my slippers again. Gone are the balmy days of summer, although to be honest there’s been quite a lot of grumbling here in my house about the lack of summer…it was very short and at times very wet, which is apparently most unlike Golden Bay. Nevermind…roll on next summer!
With the arrival of cooler nights the Asters are starting to flower and are looking beautiful. I have quite a lot of them now and I am never quite sure which one I like the most...'Little Carlow' is such a good plant, a real 'all rounder' really, and is such an easy colour to place in the garden as it goes so well with almost anything. 'Hi-Jinx' is a hybrid that was bred here in NZ and I love it as the flowers are small enough to be quite dainty but big enough not to be squiffy, and the berry coloured centre's are just gorgeous. Definitely one I wouldn’t be without.
'Alma Potschke' is perhaps not a favourite colour but she certainly knows how to put on a flamboyant show and really gives the garden a lift with her vibrant hot pink flowers. The grey-green foliage indicates her New England Aster parentage (correctly Symphyotrichum novae-angliae now). I love the shimmery sheen to the petals of 'Purple Passion', another New England Aster, but this heart throb is not one to plant in a small garden...let's just say he likes to send out big branches of love to all his neighbours! I have to remember to site him carefully in amongst strong upright plants, like Helianthus ‘Lemon Queen’ and the red stems of Cornus alba ‘Sibirica’, anything softer would just get swamped.
'Serendipity' is apparently Little Carlow's baby and is growing on me a great deal...the flowers are a bit fuller than ‘Little Carlow’ but the colour is just as good, with perhaps more of a mauve tint. In behind 'Serendipity' the tiny golden-centred white flowers of 'White Heather' are just coming out...very soon this will look stunning, like a cloud of tiny little poached eggs. Sounds unappealing when I put it like that but it really is a sweetie, and only 50cm high too. But I still return to the patch of 'Little Carlow' which compliments the rest of the garden so beautifully…I think this has to be one of the finest Asters ever bred and it certainly lives up to its reputation across the world. However, in a couple of weeks my gaze will be averted no doubt…I still have so many Asters yet to flower…’Lady in Black’ is sending out long arms of dark foliage and masses of tiny buds, looking for all the world like a giant octopus dressed in the finest lace. ‘Jeannie’ is just opening her sumptuous deep violet blue flowers, the very small ‘Pink Lace’ is looking like a pink flowered football, ‘Coombe Fishacre’ will be open soon and I love this one…so tall and dark and handsome in an unusual pink shade. Symphyotrichum lateriflorum var. horizontale (I pay homage here to the botanical rule makers of the world…but honestly I do wish they’d change it back to Aster, it was SO much easier to say)…is sending out its firework-like stems studded with tiny pink-centred creamy white flowers. And then there is ‘Kylie’…the prettiest cloud of small pink flowers you ever did see, complimented very demurely by her soft grey-green foliage. Gosh I could go on for hours about Asters couldn’t I, there’s just so many of them, and I’m sure I’ve forgotten some…
I will endeavour to dig and divide as many of these beauties as I can for selling in the spring…every garden should have at least one!
In the nursery I have been busy potting up salvia cuttings, so there will be some plants of these coming available over the next month or so. I’ve also been sowing seeds, and pricking out seedlings, sorting out and sending orders to all you lovely customers of course, and repotting all the bulbs. Thanks so much to everyone who ordered bulbs (they have all sold out). I can officially say it was the most overwhelming weekend for me when I sent that bulb list out…90% of them sold out within 24 hours, and everything else was gone within a few days. I didn’t envisage the amazing response so thank you everyone, and apologies to those of you who missed out. It is a good reminder to be extra fast with your orders I guess. There will be a smaller list of summer flowering bulbs coming out in Winter, once they’ve died down and been sorted out ready for sale, so if you want to be on the Bulbs emailing list then please let me know.
Just a few new additions to the website this week, everything is growing but still playing catchup from the quiet summer period.
Agastache ‘Astello Indigo’ (new stock)
Agastache rugosa ‘Arcado Pink’ (few only)
Salvia greggii ‘Blue Note’ – more stock added
Salvia lanceolata (very few, more coming)
Salvia mexicana ‘Lolita’ (new stock, will be the last for a while)
Tagetes lemmonii (Mexican marigold, plenty available)
If you’re in Christchurch this weekend then be sure to head along to the Grow Ōtautahi, Christchurch Garden Festival being held at the Christchurch Botanic Gardens Friday-Sunday (12th-14th March). Free entry and everything horticultural all in a fabulous setting. You can find more info here https://growotautahi.org.nz/
For plant addicts in the north of the North Island, next Friday and Saturday (19th & 20th March) the Ayrlies Plant Fair returns to tempt us with a line-up of specialist growers from across the country, held in a stunning garden setting. https://ayrlies.co.nz/news/ayrlies-plant-fair/ I can thoroughly recommend it…you never know, maybe I will see you there 😉
Happy weekend everyone!
Time is a funny thing, you’ve either got way too much of it or not enough. I think I’m definitely in the not enough category at this time of year. Every where I look there’s another something that needs doing…trimming, picking, sowing, digging, potting, writing, typing…bags of seeds waiting to be sorted, and lets not get started on the cooking and cleaning! Sometimes it can feel quite overwhelming if I look at all the unfinished jobs still waiting to be done…so I am learning to focus on what I have achieved rather than what I haven’t.
Today I can finally announce that I have finished my 2021 Bulb List...YAY!! If you haven’t received a copy via email then it will be because I only send the bulb list out to people who specifically request it. So please let me know if you’d like a copy sent to you – it’s in PDF format, or you can ask to be sent the larger MS Word file instead if you prefer. Either way, you will need to get in quick to secure some of these treasures…(the list is also available to view on my website here https://www.seaflowersnursery.co.nz/bulbs.html#/ )
The garden is starting to take on a real late summer-into-autumn feel now, with the stars of the show being the Heleniums, Achillea and Rudbeckia, and about to be joined by lots of different Asters and autumn Salvias. I love all the colours and textures of the flowers but I feel my tastes changing a little too. Funny how these things happen as we grow. I am becoming more and more focussed on foliage and form, and far less on the actual flowers.
I’m also writing an ever-growing list of all the things that need shifting around…a problem that happens when you have to start new gardens in a hurry. Suddenly summer comes along and makes you realise that not everything is where it should be!
Anyway, right now I know I should be in bed, so I will send this email then switch this computer off for the night! Just a few extras added to the list this week….
Agastache ‘Astello Indigo’
Arthropodium candidum ‘Purpureum’
Phlomis purpurea ‘Matagallo’
Salvia greggii ‘Blue Note’ (the first few…more to come)
Have a happy weekend,
Owner-operator of Seaflowers Nursery and serious plant addict!