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by Terry Dowdeswell
by Terry Dowdeswell


Terry Dowdeswell is the owner of Dowdeswell's Delphiniums in Wanganui New Zealand.

Be sure to visit his site at

October 9, 2005

1pt.gif (86 bytes)Spring officially (by order of the descendants of King Arthur at Camalot no doubt) begins in New Zealand on September 1st but, like most natural phenomena, will not be dictated to.
1pt.gif (86 bytes)We had our winter last week. A freezing blast from the Southern Ocean brought a metre of snow to the mountains and good falls at low levels. The ski field operators who had had a good season anyway, saw gold falling with the snow as it was the first week of school holidays too. But mother nature loves a bit of fun, so she sent very warm rain on Sunday to wash it off again and send us rushing for shorts and swim suits. I love spring. We are right into gales and rain today. Tomorrow we get the wind without the rain and the next day, maybe, the rain without the wind. Somewhere in this squabble between the seasons there will be sunshine, and in fact we seldom get a day without it. This is especially so of course now that daylight saving time is here and the night is banished further towards the morning :-)
1pt.gif (86 bytes)For the last couple of months the Camellias have been showing off a bit. Wanganui has, until recently, been free of Camellia blight, and although some gardens are affected there are still many that produce bushes so loaded with fresh looking blooms that I could almost be tempted to like them. Coming from Auckland which was a little warmer and more humid, I had never seen a botritis free Camellia bloom, whereas here in Wanganui it is the norm.
1pt.gif (86 bytes)Rhododendrons are waiting in the wings and some, it has to be said, are becoming quite impatient about it. Late October sees the New Plymouth Rhododendron Festival (the biggest and best in NZ) which is always a major drawcard for the city. New Plymouth is situated at the foot of Mt Taranaki (European name, Mt Egmont), which is snow capped for several months of the year and of a classic volcano cone shape. You can easily find Mt Taranaki (Egmont) on a world map. If you imagine the North Island of New Zealand to be a Sting Ray (not hard to do) then the region of Taranaki is the left side of the Ray which bulges out into the Tasman Sea. We can see the top of this mountain from our Nursery, about 60 miles away, as the crow flies.
1pt.gif (86 bytes)Another plant which grows well here, Gorse (Furze - Ulex europaeus) and was also introduced by the well intentioned European settlers, is flowering now and can be seen covering whole hillsides with it's golden blooms and vicious spiny growth. This plant will colonize and populate (or pollinize and... NO, definitely not) any land left fallow at an alarming rate, and has cost our country dearly in eradication programmes.
1pt.gif (86 bytes)Fortunately spring brings many other plants into bloom and the flowering cherries are currently having their day in the ..pouring rain. Late daffodils are looking through the sparse canopy of mid season deciduous trees now leafing up, early roses have buds bursting and I even have a delphinium about to show off, and surprise a visitor or two.
1pt.gif (86 bytes)One of the beauties of New Zealand is that geographical position and topography have combined to produce a land which displays many climate types at any one time and, combined with our geographical isolation, has resulted in many unique species of flora and fauna. No doubt many of you have heard of the Kiwi (our flightless bird), our Chatham Island Forget Me Not (Myosotidium hortensia) and the Kauri tree (Agathis australis). There are many, many more. But that is for another day.

Terry Dowdeswell
692 Brunswick Road
New Zealand

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