Warm Weather Warning
In recent years, we have had some of the warmest weather in New Zealand since they started keeping records. Please spare a thought for all the species for whom this is not good news, including many of our rare and unique alpine plants and insects, and the seabirds desperately seeking food in a warming ocean where their usual tucker is dying out.
Think about what it will mean for organic gardeners in temperate climes, too — for cold is our friend, not our enemy.
Organic Herbs and Cottage Flowers
I regularly receive some excellent plant catalogues. Top of the list for organic gardeners has to be Somerfields, which has the best selection of organically grown herbs and cottage flowers. Catalogues can be ordered from 22 Somerset Drive, Glen Tui R.D., Oxford, Canterbury. Another excellent selection of cottagey perennials and herbs is available from Cottage Plants at Petit Carenage Bay, R.D. 2, Akaroa 8161, Ph or Fax 03 304 5883. Both Somerfields and Cottage Plants put out supplements to their main catalogues form time to time, offering new and interesting selections. Cottage Plants proprietors Robyn and Peter report sadly in their latest supplement that sales have been down in the past four to five years, and that garden culture seems to have been replaced by café culture, with surplus income going on lattes not lavenders. They are hoping that the tide will turn — your help is appreciated!
For those of you gardening in challenging seaside conditions, the Seaside Plants catalogue is a must — available from Box 18 857, Christchurch. Proprietor Lee Osborn gardens on the spit between the Avon-Heathcote estuary and the open sea, so her plants are all real survivors, yet include some very choice natives and exotics.
Inland and Dampish
If you have the opposite conditions — inland and dampish — then Ruth Mitchell of Ashton Glen Perennials, Estate Rd, Wairuna R.D., Clinton, Otago can meet your needs with lots of country garden classics.
Perennials, Hemerocallis and Iris
Bay Bloom has a fine range of perennials, and also specialises in Hemerocallis (day lilies), and irises, and is building up a collection of old-fashioned roses.
Finding Local Catalogues
There are lots more excellent mail order plant nurseries in New Zealand — I suggest you read the classified and small ads in the gardening magazines to track down the ones nearest you. This will not only save on freight costs if they have what you want, it will help reduce those greenhouse gas emissions that are causing the problems mentioned earlier. It is also good to share a catalogue with a gardening friend, as most nurseries have a minimum order of $30 to make the packing and posting worth their while, and if you are on a strict budget a shared order is the way to go.
For the Caves Tree Nursery catalogue, contact Caves Tree Nursery, Pukeroro, R.D. 3. Hamilton, phone/fax 0064 7 827 6601. So many lovely choices — I can’t have them all, let alone all at once.
One final tip on buying from catalogues. Since even the illustrated ones don’t have pictures of every plant, it is essential to have some good reference books to help you choose what you want. The Pan Books series on bulbs, roses, perennials and shrubs, all by photographer and botanist duo Roger Phillips and Martyn Rix, is excellent, and I use these books often. However, it is essential to supplement them with New Zealand books, such as John Salmon’s much-reprinted native tree and flower books, and New Zealand books on roses, bulbs, perennials, etc. that show what is actually available here. Where can you find such books (both new and secondhand)? My final ‘must have’ catalogue is available on line at www.touchwoodbooks.co.nz. Touchwood have a terrific range of books, including lots of organic gardening books. They put out a monthly newsletter with their latest titles in stock — well worth receiving from email@example.com .