Monday, February 17, 2020

Treasures found while attending Convention in New Zealand

By Maggie Asplet

I have been attending our Conventions here in New Zealand since 2008 and have always taken the opportunity to make sure I either meet new people, or see new things.  Basically, just to have an awesome experience.

2019 did not disappoint.  Although not entirely relating to irises, it is about people with a passion and some of the real treasures you meet in life.

Arriving in Timaru on Friday 15 November with plenty of time prior to the opening of our Convention in the evening, Kerry (member from our Gisborne group and first time attendee) and I set off walking to find a supermarket and also find where our venue was for the evening festivities.   Easy part was venue found, only a 5 minutes walk.  

That sorted, we continued in what we thought was the correct direction to find a supermarket.  Starting to doubt ourselves we stopped a nice young man who had just picked up his son from school.  After a short discussion as to where the supermarket was, he asked why we were visiting.

The very proud vege gardener 

And his young son, the budding new gardener

Well, that was the wrong thing to do (for him) as he got an ear full about our addiction and having contracted the iris virus.  From this, we learnt that this nice young man and his son also had a virus - that of growing vegetables.  He said "do you want to come and see my place? It is just around the corner."  We took the opportunity to do this and then spent the next hour in his garden and looking at what you can go on the small 1,000 - 1,200 sq meter section.

All this work is in the hope that he will hold onto his title of being the best vege grower in the South Canterbury area.

As you can see, most of the back yard is covered with garden

As you can see, every space is used - lettuce growing so can be picked just as you want it

It is fair to say that this family has a virus, it maybe different from ours, but you never know because our paths crossed, maybe they will just more interest in our passion.  Oh, and we never did find the supermarket, we decided we didn't have time for that and went back to our lovely motel.

Our second treasure is actually a member of the NZ Iris Society, Michael Midgley.  He made the mistake of sitting at the back of the bus, and any of you who know me, know that is exactly where I like to sit.  So, Kerry and I got to spend two days in conversation with Michael as we traveled around the tour gardens. An absolute wealth of knowledge.

One of Michael's passions is alpine plants and growing them.  At the conclusion of the convention our trusted convention conveyor, Marilyn Rathgen  took a few of us on a 1 1/2 hour drive to his house, across some of the most beautiful country to finally end up at Lake Tekepo, the home of Michael.

Beautiful view of Lake Tekapo

And the view from Michael's house

The convention guest speakers, Gary White and Andi Rivarola were part of this rather special group to experience something just so beautiful.  The knowledge shared, the passion very noticeable and created the desire to go home and try and create a miniature alpine garden.  Still in the process of thought only ... got the tub in place but nothing done to it yet.

The group braving the weather - from left - Kerry Smith (Gisborne) Michael Midgley, Wendy Davies (Gisborne), Andy Rivarola (Frozen), Marilyn Rathgen (our tour guide) and Gary White (busy taking photos) me on the other side of this photo

Alpine Garden and how the rocks are arranged - these rocks are from the area

The plants do have name tags, just buried in the garden

Last view of the alpine garden

That evening was spent sitting around the dinner table sharing a meal, glass of wine, and plenty of talk.  Just brilliant.

I was lucky enough to bring home a couple of little alpine plants that Micheal carefully dug up - some Iris maritima and Iris sintenisii, both of which I am very pleased to say are growing and will be transplanted to my alpine garden.

Michael has registered two irises in the past - Iris 'Merel' a Siberian registered in 2000 and SPEC-X sibtosa, Iris 'tailormade tekapo'.  This was registered in 2014 after having won the Begg Shield (A NZ award) in 2013.

Iris 'Tailormade tekapo'

I would like to encourage anyone that is reading this, if you have not attended an iris convention, then you are missing out.  You just never know what you might come across.  Perhaps you will meet one of our iris treasurers.

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