Dunedin Rhododendron Festival - 2
In 2007 twenty-two Dunedin gardens declared themselves open -each with one or two compulsory rhododendrons, in order to fit the criteria of this festival. Some were on the gently hilly peninsula, some were smaller and suburban, and some were further south on the Taieri Plains.
Dunedin Botanic Gardens Rhododendrons
The private gardeners have all been very welcoming to our busload of eager ladies (plus three husbands and the bus driver). They've directed us up sloping paths and tricky steps without blinking, even though some of our ladies have been old and wobbly. Not me!
One lady bred snowdrops, and had over forty varieties. Naturally she did a roaring trade in her tiny nursery. We visited a wonderful gully garden on the Dunedin peninsula, run by a Doctor who bred Hellebores. He, too, sold many plants to the ladies. I bought a non-spiky Aciphylla and some blue-flowering Iris Confusa Chengdu - both great conversation pieces, at least!
A historic home in the city, Olveston, had a beautifully laid out garden. It was great to see rhododendrons and Azaleas sharing the woodland with New Zealand hebes.
Larnach Castle Rock Garden
At the famous attraction Larnach Castle there was an exquisite rock garden, where a brilliant collection of alpines, flowering treasures, foliage treasures and New Zealand natives nestled amongst the rocks on a gentle slope. Too late I discovered that the owner-gardener has written a book on her efforts.
The Best Garden Vista Ever
I saw plants here that I'd never seen before - not even in books. Larnach Castle Garden also had the most tremendous vista I've ever gazed along.
Never again will I be satisfied with those never-ending vistas in big English parks, or the silly little grass hallways (ending with an urn or a seat), that country garden designers here are always dishing up.
Dunedin's Magnificent Botanic Gardens
And the Rhododendron Dell in the Dunedin Botanic Gardens is a magnificent place to visit. It has lots of super informative signs, plus the odd wheelbarrow for nosy visitors to peer into.
Spot the Wheelbarrow
Apparently the complete gardens cover twenty-eight hectares (lots of acres), so it was considered sensible that our group was carefully escorted. If a lady wandered off to find the perennial borders, and got lost en route, the whole day's timetable could be thrown into disarray!
Back Home Again...
On my arrival back home I bought some brand new edging shears, and quietly suggested to NGP (Non-Gardening-Partner) that my lawns need more maintenance, more watering, and rather more regular mowing.
Wisteria with Daisies
Naturally, after seeing so many lovely gardens, I have a long list of things I liked and want in my own garden.
- Rhododendron trees that I can walk under.
- Green astelias, lots, to plant underneath large rhododendrons (see above).
- Perennial geraniums, lots, to plant underneath medium rhododendrons.
- A flaming wall of deciduous Azaleas - I've only got two.
- Higher rainfall, and no dry winds.
Not much of a wish list is it! Watch out, wallet - those gardens in the Dunedin Rhododendron Festival have set a very high standard.