Monday, December 23, 2019

Convention 2019 - New Zealand Style

By Maggie Asplet

From the 15th of November through to the 18th of November, Irisarians from around the country and overseas gathered for three days of wonderful companionship, visiting beautiful gardens, attending workshops and the usual AGM and a delicious dinner and awards evening.

Friday evening is the time to register, check out who else is there and start talking about irises. This was a more informal evening with the newly elected local Mayor, Nigel Bowan opening proceedings for our annual event.  Our President, Marilyn Fleming also welcomed everyone.  We then had two short presentations from our two overseas guest speakers, Andi Rivarola and Gary White introducing themselves.  There will be more about them later.

From Left - Mayor Nigel Bowan, NZIS President Marilyn Fleming, AIS Vice President Andi Rivarola and AIS IPP Gary White

For me, the most special part was the book launch - Why Irises?  I trust you have all seen the earlier post about this book.  I was great seeing the team who had assisted the author, Gwenda Harris, make this all happen.

Marilyn Rathgen (at podium) gave background and introduced the team.  Stephanie Boot (also standing) was responsible for editing, providing many photos and layout and support and Alistair Boot had publishing responsibility.  Absent was Graham Menary also responsible for supplying photos.

There were a number of beautiful blooms on display, items set out of the silent auction and some beautiful memorabilia on display.

With the formality of the opening over, it was off back to our motels for the evening.

Saturday 16 November - a day out and about on the bus.  Yes, just one bus which was followed by a few cars.  We set off for the area of Geraldine for the day.

Our first stop was the the Geraldine Festival with many stalls all set out in the Domain for us all to wonder around, find a coffee and later get our lunch.

A beautiful outdoor solar light made from a stump; a new iris business "Irises of Kinvara", my favourite floral arrangement on display in a near by hall

Our next stop was to the home and garden of David and Lois Attwood.  This was also our first opportunity to purchase plants, and we did.  Like all iris bus trips, there is always room in the baggage lockers for plants.  A delightful town garden with many little treasures.  My favourite was the Moraea pictured below.

Pictures from David & Lois Attwood's

Moving onto our next garden of Bob and Libby Hall.  A beautiful older garden with some wonderful trees around, iris lining the left hand entrance of the the driveway and another opportunity to purchase some plants.  This was also a space of some wonderful and interesting sculptures, all of which were for sale.

I actually have a habit of going home from convention with a large item of my garden, or having to have it couriered home afterwards.  I can say that this time I was a little restrained and did not give into my usual buying habits (Large scale pieces to try and fly home with).

Pictures from Bob & Libby Hall's 

Our final garden for the day was at the property of Bernie & Joy O'Keefe and the home of Woodbury Rhododendrons.  This is very much a spring garden with some magnificent rhododendrons an numerous companion plants such as hostas, peonies, primulas, trilliums, hellebores and different edging plants.  Roses provide the garden with some wonderful summer colour.

As you wondered around this garden, we came across a lovely row of irises in full bloom.  I was also very taken with the pond area and water loving irises growing so well.

Pictures from Bernie & Joy O'Keefe's garden - Woodbury Rhododendrons

As is normal when attending a convention in New Zealand, we often are caught eating.  This was afternoon tea before we left for the trip back to Timaru and a free evening.

Saturday evening, although a free night, a few of us went out for dinner taking Andy and Gary for a bit of kiwi hilarity, topped of with our convention convenor feeding her face (sorry Marilyn).

Sunday, the day of staying put in Timaru, listening to some wonderful presentations by Andy & Gary on their trip to both Paris and Florence.  This was following by - guess what - time for mornig tea.

Shortly after this interval we held our judging workshop panel discussion with Gary and Andi on historic irises.  So very informative, on both counts and especially the Spuria irses, as we don't have much in the way of hybridising being done in this area.

After lunch, we held our Annual General Meeting - went without a hitch and didn't take long.  This was followed by the societies annual auction.  The South Canterbury Iris Group never disappoint in having a great selection of irises to bid on, and I sure did my fair share.

Andi checking out some blooms on display, then assisting Gary with one of their presentations and the group photo

The evening was our formal dinner at which time awards were given out, entertainment was provided by local member, Jean Barkman and then we were treated to another presentation by Andi on spuria irises.

Jean Barkman

Monday, a time to relax and enjoy the last of the gardens, so it was onto the bus again to travel south and visit members garden.  It was a day of dodging heavy showers and some hail storms that came through, particularly in the afternoon.

Our first garden of the day was at Lynda & Malcolm Crossen place in Southburn.  A beautiful garden with gorgeous iris display garden and also the irises that were entered for our New Zealand Begg Shield award.  This is judged during convention by approximately three judges.  Again, this is a garden with peonies, roses, hostas, rhododendrons, azaleas and so much more in, set in a stunning rural environment.

photos from Lynda & Malcolm Crossen's 

Our next stop was to Mary Brosnahan's garden.  Wow, this was just lovely, so well kept with the help of her daughter Susan.  I think the photos will say just how lovely this garden was.

AND - morning tea time

Back on the bus again to Lesley & Robert Tennant's garden at Otaio.  The property has been in the Tennant family since 1946 with many of the large Oaks, Elms and Ash already being there and since then the garden have been developed around this.  Definitely a garden that you need to wonder around to find some of the beautiful spots and areas framed with trees.  I even had an opportunity to talk with the chickens. The daffodils and the stunning pond are features of this property.

It is now 12.45pm and it is time for a short bus trip to the Waimate Events Centre - for lunch.  Before we got there, we had the first of some very heavy hail

From here it was onto our last members garden of Stephanie Boot's.  On the way, we have to "kill" a little time as the hail had again hit us, so we went around the block in Waimate looking at the Silos.

Just as soon as the hail had finished, we arrived at Stephanie's.  The very first thing you noticed was the huge amount of damage that the hail had done to her beautiful garden.  A gardeners garden, with some wonderful large Ash, Copper Beech and American White Oak trees.

Large specimens of Cordyline, Kowhai, Southern Beech, Totara, Chestnut, form the "bones" of this garden with Rhododendrons, Camellias, Roses and various other shrubs and natives.  Siberian irises now accompany the roses.

Hail on the ground when we arrived; Stephanie (facing us) talking with Andi, Gary & Marilyn; an iris not damaged by the hail

More garden areas at Stephanie's

It was also time for the official handover of the banner from the South Canterbury Iris Group to the 2020 hosts Bay Of Plenty Iris Group.  The banner was actually handed over on Sunday evening so that it could be taken bake to the Bay of Plenty by car.

This was a time for afternoon tea, thank you from different members and our two guest Gary & Andi.

South Canterbury Iris Group fare-welling us all

On our way back to Timaru we stopped at the Makikihi Display and Trial Gardens, which had not been spared damage from the hail storms during the day.

The Makikihi Trial and Display Gardens were established by the South Canterbury Group in 2008 under the enthusiastic guidance of Brian Harris.

Now Lynda Crossen, with assistant Stephanie Boot, is the Director of the TB Trial Gardens and the Group, under the supervision of Jessica Ward, maintains the Display gardens which contain Dwarf, Median and Tall Bearded, Siberians, Spurias, Louisianas, bulbous and some species and historics.
Potted irises and plants are for sale all year round.

SO, this is a little insight into a New Zealand Iris Society Convention.


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