Documents: Gardening From: Gardening From New Zealand:

NZ Rhodo Fine, Trumpet Vine & Easter Lily

A $5,000 fine for importing certain Rhododendron seeds into New Zealand(!); a fast-growing vine for a privacy screen in the sun; what to do with an Easter lily; and pruning back a large lilac!
by Art Drysdale
by Art Drysdale


Art Drysdale, a life-long resident of Toronto and a horticulturist well known all across Canada, is now a resident of Parksville, British Columbia on Vancouver Island, just north of Nanaimo. He has reno-vated an old home and has a new garden there. His radio gardening vignettes are heard in south-western Ontario over radio station Easy 101 FM out of Tillsonburg at 2 PM weekdays.

Art also has his own website at

May 21, 2006

Above, beautiful large flowers of the scarlet trumpet vine, and below, the golden shrubby honeysuckle (Lonicera nitida ‘Baggesen’s Gold’. Author photos.

“Scientist's seedy passions backfire” was the headline on a May 5/06 item in the Invasive Alien Species (IAS) bulletin, a part of the Global Invasive Species Programme. If you have ever considered trying to ‘smuggle’ seeds in from another country, you might want to remember this. Here is writer, Michael Cummings original item from the IAS News archive.

“A horticultural scientist's passion for rhododendrons germinated into a $5000 fine yesterday when she was sentenced in Palmerston North (N.Z.) District Court for smuggling prohibited seeds into the country. Susan Davies, described as a ‘senior scientist for a horticultural research agency’, was fined $5000 and ordered to pay $330 court costs after pleading guilty to two counts of breaching the Biosecurity Act. The court was told Davies, 56, is also known as Susan Gardiner. On March 16 last year, a parcel from Britain addressed to Davies was intercepted at Auckland International Airport's mail centre. The parcel, marked "one of two", contained 26 packets of seeds and an order form listing 52 rhododendron species, six of which are illegal to import into New Zealand.

“Davies had written on the order form: ‘Please post my seeds in a plain, unmarked envelope with no indication of contents to ensure smooth arrival in New Zealand.’ The following day another parcel addressed to Davies containing 29 packets of seeds was intercepted.

“When interviewed by a quarantine officer, Davies admitted importing a similar amount of seeds in 2004 and led the officer to 157 plants growing in a greenhouse at her home.

“In sentencing Davies, Judge Gregory Ross said her offending was premeditated and ‘somewhat clandestine. I am very surprised that a person of your position would offend in this way. You would have been well aware of the purpose of the Biosecurity Act, but you have not let that stand in the way of your hobby.’

“Crown prosecutor Charlotte Patterson said Davies knew that what she was doing was ‘illegal and dangerous’ and the offending was at the upper end of the scale.

“Davies' counsel, Mark Alderdice, told the court his client had no previous convictions, made no financial gain from importing the seeds and was cooperative with the authorities from the outset. 'She did what she did simply because she's a rhododendron enthusiast,’ Mr Alderdice said.

“Judge Ross sentenced Davies to a $2500 fine on each of the two counts and ordered her to pay $130 court costs and $200 solicitor's costs.”

The question that has been here the longest (since May 7), is from Betty Hilke in Qualicum Bay (north of the Town of Qualicum Beach), but my response is pretty well equally applicable to gardeners in many provinces, particularly including southern Ontario: “I received an Easter Lily (white blooms) with no tag of instructions--so now the blooms have died and I picked them after they died. I have kept it relatively dry but what procedure do I follow with it now, do I cut it back to top of soil? Also, should I remove it from the pot and plant it outside, or leave it in the pot and plant pot and all? Hoping to hear from you.

While gardeners in Ontario should protect a planted-out Easter lily with a mulch especially over the first winter, and plant it near a house foundation for protection, no such precautions are necessary for Betty on Vancouver Is-land. I would plant it, perhaps amongst other lilies now, and water and fertilize it well. Do not cut back on the foliage until it dies back naturally. It should bloom again next year (not at Easter) and in subsequent years too.

Just three days later, Rose wrote from the Comox Valley, about an hour north of Parksville: “I hope you can help me with this! I want to grow a vine for privacy on our sundeck and have tried, roses; which failed. I've tried passion flower; which failed (it just died over this past winter). Now I planted a honeysuckle. I'm using pots; if I planted in the ground they would take too long to grow up and provide privacy. The deck is south side of the house and I have no problem growing flowers in the pots; I just can't find a vine that can stand the hot sun in a pot! I also live in the Comox Valley on Vancouver Island; so that may help you with climate. Thank-you so very much; I'm at my 'wits end'.

Almost regardless of your location in southern Canada you have a large choice. I don’t understand why the rose(s) failed, although they might not have been in a sufficiently large container. Passion vines while hardy in some locations on Vancouver Island, obviously were not for you. We did grow several in Toronto, keeping them over in a cool room each winter. Their rapid growth each spring still qualify them for your conditions, I think. You also mention a honeysuckle, but you did not say which one—there are so many. Likely one of the main considerations you need to think on is the support your vine will need. Most require at least some framing for support. The honey-suckles I would have asked you consider would be Mandarin (Lonicera ‘Mandarin’) which blooms bright orange in June, or the older, well known Dropmore Scarlet (Lonicera brownii ‘Dropmore Scarlet’).

I also have a love of the chocolate vine or five-leaf akebia (Akebia quinata) which blooms with small purple flowers in May every year. It will grow very tall so you might even want to plant it in the ground.

One plant I could not recommend for Ontario gardeners is shrubby honeysuckle (Lonicera nitida) but you would only get about 1.5 m (5 feet), however it should take to a container rather well. There is also a yellow-foliage cultivar (L. n. ‘Baggesen’s Gold’) which is generally considered a very good plant. This has fine foliage but could be a good answer to your problem.

There are so many more: Clematis by the hundred, bittersweet (Celastrus scandens), porcelain berry (Ampelopsis brevipedunculata ‘Elegans’), Dutchman’s pipe, a favourite from my childhood, grown mainly for its large, dense green leaves (Aristolochia durior), trumpet vine (Campsis radicans) and silver lace vine (Polygonum aubertii). I believe vines such as Wisteria, bittersweet, trumpet vine and possibly even the larger honeysuckles would be better planted in the ground, rather than in containers, unless your containers are large; i.e. over 75 cm (30”) in height and depth, with no narrowing toward the bottom.

Just on Friday, Edith wrote from somewhere in southern Ontario (I think), asking about a lilac shrub: “My lilac bush is in full bloom but I want to trim it back. I have heard you suggest to cut the bush back after the flowers have died off. What I want to know is, will the bush flower next year? Thank you, I look forward to your answer.”

It may seem a simple question, but the answer is not necessarily easy. She has likely heard me say too, that the new flower buds for next year emerge from the ends of the stems on which this years flowers were produced. If when pruning, you prune too deeply (below the old flowers) you stand a good chance of cutting away next year’s flower buds. Obviously then, by cutting the shrub back, there is a good possibility of much reduced blooming the following year. What I suggest is that she do the cutting back immediately that the blooms are starting to turn brown. At that time, I would also use a good application of Liquid Growth Garden Bloom Formula, along with a scattering of horticultural lime around the base of the plant.

  • New Eden
  • Kids Garden
  • Plant a Row Grow a Row