I'm not usually one for blowing my own trumpet, preferring to fly under the radar most of the time, but last year I was interviewed by Dharini as part of a series for the International Plant Propagators' Society...so if you want to get to know me a bit better then please click on the links below (Part 1 and Part 2)...you can listen to Dharini and I talking about all sorts of things from Salvias, plant propagation, microclimates, to parasitic wasps and the therapeutic benefits of gardens.
Well March flew by in a blur of bulbs and general busyness in the nursery, in fact at times I’ve been so focussed on the work in front of me that I’m quite sure half the month just slipped by without me even noticing. Yesterday I was exhausted so I decided to put a dress on and take the day off…my theory is that if I wear a pretty dress then I’m not going to go anywhere near potting mix! I stayed clean all day so it did work, except maybe when I decided to make bread 😉
Maybe I’m channelling my inner feminine side this week, because all my walks around the garden seem to involve admiring clouds of pink things. The attraction of hot oranges, rusty coppers, golden yellows and searing reds that came at the end of summer has been replaced with a love of all things floaty and dreamy…the Japanese Anemones are stunning at the moment, particularly the single soft pink variety which wends its way up alongside the lawn, hugging the limestone rocks behind it, the flowers held up above the foliage as if to greet the sun, and gently waving in any breeze that comes along. The white form ‘Honorine Jobert’ is looking equally as beautiful, although this year she has been joined by an interesting Dahlia, which must be a relic of the previous garden there…something akin to one of those woollen pompoms mum taught me how to make when I was a child, and a mixed up colour of dishwater, lemon and pink. Not the best combination really...I feel this one is on my hit-list. Anyway, throughout the garden there are clouds of Aster and Boltonia varieties which draw the eye, particularly the smaller-flowered ones like ‘Coombe Fishacre’ which starts out pinkish and deepens to mauve with berry-pink button centres, it reaches a reasonable height too and has good strong stems. Nearby there’s a lovely single soft pink variety that was a gift from my friend Glenys, which has been a stunning hazy cloud for weeks on end, plus who could go past ‘Little Carlow’, one of the finest Asters of all time with masses of glowing lavender blue flowers, although I must say this year it has competition for my affections…a highly floriferous variety that was already here in the garden, and has been allowed to shine now, with masses of slightly arching, upright stems carrying short branchlets studded with flowers in a gorgeous shade of softest lavender with a hint of pink…whatever it is, it is a real beauty and goes so well with everything else in the garden. On the eye-catching side of the colour spectrum, ‘Andenken an Alma Potschke’ has been in flower since January…viewed in the morning or the evening she is easy on the eye and not particularly remarkable, but visit her during the day and she is resplendent in glorious hot cerise pink daisies, just a shade darker than that which would have you reaching for your sunglasses. I remember she was a favourite of our friend Roger and I often wondered what the attraction was, but now I can see…long flowering, strong but not too tall, and such a colourful impact plant.
Back to the clouds of girlish pink…I selected a particularly sturdy Gaura from a batch of ‘Sparkle White’ seedlings last year, as it was a bit different from the rest. Having planted her out last spring I can now report that getting to the vege garden has taken on a whole new level of ‘into the wild’…she is magnificent. We measured her the other day – a mere 80cm at her tallest, which is not particularly tall for a Gaura, but at 1.4m wide and densely covered in fluttering pink-tinted white flowers from one end to the other, she is certainly not like the lofty, willowy varieties I am familiar with. I shall have to take cuttings. Another plant that seems to have spread out and is now beginning to send up lots of flower stems is my apricot pink form of Salvia spathacea, each pink flower looking like someone has dipped it in apricot coloured blusher. Standing there admiring it I realise at the back of the bed there are long stems of Salvia confertiflora ‘Meg’ appearing, rising upwards like trails of soft peach-coloured stars above a sea of grey-green foliage. And just to the side an expanding mound of the mauve and white flowers of Salvia leucantha ‘Spring Gold Joy’ a form of Mexican Bush Sage which is softer and easier on the eye than the vibrant purple form called ‘Midnight’ (although to be honest I wouldn’t be without that one ever…it is looking absolutely incredible right now as well!).
Out in the nursery there is plenty happening, lots of plants coming on for autumn and winter planting, plus forward planning for spring sales. In a few weeks’ time we will see the much awaited return of the Lupins in individual colours. I haven’t grown these for a few years now and I get asked about them all the time…so out there in the nursery are rows of pots with strong, healthy seedlings which can be planted this autumn for spring flowering. There will be white, pink, red, carmine, yellow and blue so you can colour coordinate your plantings. There’s plenty of them but if you’re worried about missing out or have ‘big plans’ for your garden this year then feel free to pre-order some. I’m also getting ready for another round of seed sowing next week with the arrival of the new moon, and more importantly the arrival of some exciting new seeds…all sorts of plants that I’ve never grown before, so there will hopefully be ‘some for me and some for you’ later in the year 😊
I’ve just updated the website and there’s more stock been added to the existing numbers of the beautiful Patrinia villosa, the good form of Sea Holly Eryngium planum ‘Blaukappe’, bronze flowered Digitalis trojana and some 1 litre grade Agastache cana ‘Bolero’. Below is a list of new additions to the line-up since last month:
Eryngium giganteum ‘Silver Ghost’ (few only)
Echinops bannaticus ‘Star Frost’
Salvia ‘Shangri-La’ (S. moorcroftiana x S. indica)
Agastache foeniculum (anise hyssop)
Agastache rugosa ‘Arcado Pink’
Patrinia villosa (few only, more coming)
Gosh what a busy spring I’m having…a huge thank you to all of you lovely customers who have been purchasing plants recently, I honestly don’t know whether I’m seriously excited or totally overwhelmed by the amazing support I receive from you all each week…but I know that my business is definitely keeping me happily busy this year! I had a record number of orders to send out this week…including the first lot of plants to all those super patient people in Auckland who have been waiting for lockdown restrictions to lift and freight delays to ease. Fingers crossed the plants reach you all quickly and safely and you can get planting and planning and enjoying the promise of what is yet to come 😊
I have a couple of big events coming up in the next six weeks….
On Saturday 16th and Sunday 17th I will be back again for the Motueka Garden Trail, selling my plants at the garden at 31 Poole Street, Motueka. There are fabulous gardens to look at, open on both days from 10am-4pm. Tickets for the trail need to be pre-purchased, they are $20 and can be purchased at a range of Nelson and Tasman outlets, with the proceeds going towards the fantastic Motueka Toy Library. My own wee granddaughter uses this service now and just loves it...so get your tickets and I'm looking forward to seeing you there!
On Sunday 7th November I will be selling plants at the Garden Marlborough Fete, which is a fabulous event full of quality plant stalls, artisan food, entertainment and all things garden-related. The fete is held at Churchill Glade, within Pollard Park, in Blenheim, with free entry. This is the first time I will be attending so it’s slightly nerve-wracking for me but I know it will be a wonderful day and I’m really looking forward to meeting old and new friends and customers.
My own gardening regime has understandably been a bit hit-and-miss, with my attention diverted to the nursery most days. But I have been trying to get out in it most weeks, sometimes even an hour can make all the difference, although I do tend to start one job only to find I need to do something else first in order to complete that one, and then another…and I invariably end up having a burst of energy and just getting stuck in for a day so I can get everything done at once, and then go back to work knowing that at least one part of the garden looks okay and the veges have been planted!
I also get terribly distracted with taking photos of plants…but it does give me a reason to just wander and not actually ‘do’ anything. It’s quite restful just wandering around taking note of everything that is happening in the garden. My Mum refers to me quite often as behaving like a ‘whirling dervish’, which sounds hilariously terrifying…I prefer to think I’m just a very busy person because believe me, it would be very easy to miss the finer details of a garden if one is behaving like that! (Especially the weeds…sigh!!). In the shady garden beds at the moment there are a multitude of happenings for instance, many of them at ground level where they are so easy to overlook if I’m in a mad rush. Salvia nubicola is unfurling its green leaves from the stumpy tips that looked like dead bits of wood last week…before long it will spread it’s foliage out and then send up a succession of stems carrying very soft lemon flowers. There are Arisaemas and Lilies poking their heads through the soil now, and the fattening and elongating of the first Aquilegia flowerstems. The Epimediums are in flower now of course, I have them in soft yellow, rose pink and my favourite E. niveum is pure white. I love their contrasting and sometimes patterned foliage too. I also see I have seedlings to dig out of the dwarf perennial borage, Borago pygmaea, which is just as edible as it’s much more robust cousin Borago officinalis, but easier to find a spot for in the garden as it is much smaller. The shining glory in the shade area at the moment would have to be my clump of blue Omphalodes…I think it’s O. cappadocica. It is a gorgeous mound of fresh green leaves studded with stems of bright blue forget-me-not-like flowers.
In the sunnier garden areas my Kniphofia thomsonii hybrid is already bursting into flower, sending up vertical spikes the colour of warm sunsets…it’s a great one for not getting too big, and I just love everything about it really...especially as it’s flowering now, when those sorts of colours are not as common. The Euphorbia characias ssp. wulfenii that I positioned on the corner of the house has the most incredible flowerheads…big billowy clouds of lime green, they definitely expect to be noticed…unlike the unobtrusive brown heads of Euphorbia mellifera which blend in nicely with anything really, but of course they have the most amazing scent of honey…it just drifts around filling the garden.
Anyway, I have a long list of plants to add to the website now so I had better get this newsy email finished, and get on with the task at hand…which is of course to let you know about all the new and exciting plants that are now available to buy and add to your own beautiful gardens.
So below are the latest additions, and I have also adjusted stock numbers on the website of plants that were already available, but may have sold out – sometimes new stock comes on a week or two later so it always pays to check in case I’ve added more! You can find all the listings here https://www.seaflowersnursery.co.nz/perennials.html#/ where you can purchase and pay using your credit card, including Apple Pay and Android Pay options, or Paypal. If you’d like to place an order for payment via internet banking then please email me at email@example.com
Aquilegia caerulea hybrid ‘Heavenly Blue’
Aquilegia vulgaris var. stellata plena ‘Barlow Choice Mix’
Fuchsia ‘Lincoln Bronze’ (F. excoticata x F. procumbens)
Helenium ‘Sunny Wonder’
Helianthus ‘Lemon Queen’
Knautia macedonica ‘Red Cherries’
Salvia brandegeei ‘Pacific Blue’
Salvia leucantha ‘Midnight’
Salvia lyrata ‘Purple Volcano’
Salvia pratensis ‘Madeline’
Solidago rugosa ‘Fireworks’
Symphyotrichum (Aster) cordifolius ‘Silver Spray’
Symphyotrichum (Aster) novae-angliae
Right, now that I’ve finished typing and updating the website I think it’s high time I went and fed the pet bunny and then myself…it’s amazing how many hours the computer can steal really, but it’s all worth it to see all my plant babies heading off to new homes afterwards. I hope you enjoy my plant selections and emails too 😊
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 😊
Owner-operator of Seaflowers Nursery and serious plant addict!