JARS v54n1 - The Antipodal Lure of New Zealand Gardens

The Antipodal Lure of New Zealand Gardens
Joe Ronsley
Lions Bay, British Columbia

To the suggestion of our friend, Lady Anne Berry, that my wife, Joanne, and I visit New Zealand again (we had been there less than two years earlier), and do so in time for the New Zealand Rhododendron Society conference in Christchurch, we replied that it might be possible, and we would consider it. The consequence of this vague, tentative response was that the whole trip was immediately organized, as were we, and Joanne and I were booking air tickets. We knew that Anne, formerly Chairman of the International Dendrology Society, has a reputation as a good organizer, but we were extremely impressed on this occasion nevertheless. In fact, I was a little reluctant to leave home that time of year, since the fall colours were just beginning in our garden, but then two springs in one year didn't sound bad either. In the end, we can't thank Anne enough for "organizing us."

We left Vancouver the evening of October 16, 1998, and, having crossed the international date line as well as the equator, arrived in Auckland early the morning of the 18th. We had a reservation on a flight to Napier early in the afternoon, so like the previous time, took a day room to get a couple hours' sleep and a shower, something I strongly advise under the circumstances, since in effect it gave us an extra day of wakeful activities. Our first stop, then, was for three days with our good friends Michael and Carola Hudson at their home, farm and garden, Gwavas, near Tikokino, in the hills behind Napier.

The Hawkes Bay area immediately surrounding Napier and Hastings is really too warm to grow rhododendrons well, but the hills around Gwavas are cooler, and judging by the two gardens we visited, rhododendrons grow in that area very well indeed. The whole area, however, like much of the country, is subject to strong winds, and the past year the whole east side of New Zealand had suffered quite an extreme drought, this while torrential rains pounded the west side of the country causing serious flooding. Despite the day room, we spent the rest of the first day at Gwavas recovering from the trip, but we were able to do so without socially disgracing ourselves. The next morning, before even visiting the Gwavas garden, Michael and Carola took us to visit their friends, John and Irene White, and to see their extremely beautiful garden, Sentry Hill.

Like everyone in New Zealand, it seems, the Whites have sheep, lots of them. It is a large property with lovely views from the house over the rich green hills covered in grass and broken by clumps of trees, both cows and sheep making for a picturesque pastoral scene, quite typical of the east side of New Zealand. In this microclimate, moreover, the drought had not been as extreme as elsewhere. As described in the Hawkes Bay Garden Directory, Sentry Hill is a "25-year-old woodland garden lying on both sides of a valley with ponds and a waterway." Still near the house, we were immediately impressed and, I must admit, made a little envious by a Meyer lemon tree laden with fruit, an Abutilon vitifolium covered with beautiful white flowers, a large lonicera and a Rhododendron 'Saffron Queen', also covered with flowers. But if I was envious of that lemon tree, etc., that envy was nothing compared to my reaction to the various Maddenia -species and hybrids - that I would see here and throughout New Zealand. At Sentry Hill there are huge specimens of R. taggianum , ciliicalyx , ( nuttallii x lindleyi ), and 'John Bull' (R. johnstoneanum x R. edgeworthii ), all covered in flowers, with the scent, of course, as captivating as the sight. In Vancouver we are blessed in being able to grow most of the rhododendron varieties we would like to grow, but the line does get drawn, unfortunately, through the middle, or a little below, the Maddenia . And it seemed the New Zealanders were throwing those sensational plants at us all through our visit-on purpose, I am sure!

R. 'Mary Tasker'
'Mary Tasker' at Sentry Hill
Photo by Joe Ronsley

It was at Sentry Hill, too, that we were to see for the first time a few of the New Zealand hybrids which would stand out strikingly in our eyes in whatever garden we saw them afterwards. The first was 'Mary Tasker' (Jalisco Group x 'Fawn'), a beautiful soft pastel peach pink with a red throat, with no element of harsh colour but a lovely translucence to the texture of the flower. I am looking for this one in the Pacific Northwest but so far have not found it. Another New Zealand hybrid, very highly rated and seen regularly, was 'Lemon Lodge' (Prelude Group, possibly selfed), a good soft yellow, but probably not so different from others of its type, and finally, on this visit, the one I covet the most, 'Lalique' (a selection from the Loderi Group or R. griffithianum seedling). When fully open it is a round truss with beautifully shaped flowers, white but with hints of pink and lilac having a pearly effect. Overall it has a quality to the bloom that is much finer than the frequently seen modern hybrids and really should be made available in North America.

There are many superb specimens of some of the older hybrids in the Whites' garden, the Loderis for example, but no garden is really a garden with just rhododendrons, and at Sentry Hill there were many interesting plants of other genera. To mention just one, new to me (among many things!), was Mallotus japonicus , a shrub with maple-like leaves, the new leaves being a rather clear pink, having an effect something like a poinsettia but more refined. Finally, there was the pond with its edges marked by clumps of primula and arum lilies, a lovely bridge, the whole surrounded by the woodland garden made up of many species but especially accented with fully blooming rhododendrons.

Before leaving we had tea, of course, with our gracious hosts. But after all this, the account of our visit to Sentry Hill ends on a rather sad note. That same night a wind storm felled about twenty trees. We didn't return but hope that at least some of them were among the Pinus radiata which the Whites intended to remove anyway.

That afternoon we began our tour of the garden at Gwavas, a tour which was actually to take a day and a half, including the next morning and afternoon. Even then we felt we were moving rather quickly over some parts. The extended tour of the garden was made even more interesting and pleasant because Michael was guiding us, and we were occasionally joined by Carola - both of whom provide company that we seek whenever we can. In the garden immediately surrounding the house - a house, I should say, which was built in 1859, very old for New Zealand, and full of beauty, character and warmth - there were roses, other smaller shrubs, and perennials, the most memorable for me being a poppy called 'Ladybird', and looking like one, though of a deeper red, and especially the Iris japonica and Iris tectorum . (A further note on the house: in about 1832 a younger Hudson son in a big house in Cornwall disgraced the family by seducing the gamekeeper's daughter and was banished to New Zealand, where he made his fortune and evidently built the house in which we were privileged guests. A further note: Tom Hudson, Michael and Carola's son, has now returned to take over the Cornwall estate, has developed the garden, and is active in plant hunting expeditions.) But the real garden at Gwavas lay on the other side of a sheep pasture. This is a woodland garden surrounding a grand and beautiful house with a lovely verandah, not used at present by the Hudsons, and not quite as old as the house in which they are living. Many people, including ourselves, find this unfortunate, except that the house they do occupy is so lovely and comfortable in itself.

The property that comprises Gwavas totals about 2,700 acres, some of it planted in farm crops, but most of it devoted to 3,000 or so sheep; this is New Zealand after all! The woodland/rhododendron garden is about 20 acres, of which 15 or 16 are planted, and planted, I must say, with wonderful things. Tree-size camellias are abundant, mostly past their blooming prime at the time of our visit, and there is a great variety of Asian maples, one of the most interesting being a hybrid between Acer griseum and Acer nikoense . with a bark the colour of A. griseum but of a different texture, more finely striated. It would be hard to say it was more beautiful than A. griseum . because there isn't much that is, but it is quite different, something anyone interested in beautiful Asian maples would love to have in the garden. I have never seen it anywhere else, however. There is also the wonderful Myrtus luma with its beautiful red bark; Azara serrata , about 15 feet (4.5 meters) high and covered with fragrant yellow flowers; Dipelta floribunda with flowers like those of Kolkwitzia , but larger, clearer in colour, and generally much more beautiful; a particularly effective tree fern (among many more "ordinary" ones) called 'Black Mamaku', with, as the name suggests, virtually black bark and mid-vein through the deep green fronds; huge plants, perhaps 10 feet (3 meters) high, of Prostanthera , the Australian mint bush, which were veritable clouds of lavender flowers; also towering overhead enormous spikes of purple Echium and Embothrium coccinea in full bloom. The woodland ground cover in bloom at the time of our visit was Aquilegia in a full range of mixed colours - masses of them in huge drifts among the rhododendrons and other trees. Michael told us that bulbs had preceded them, and we knew from a previous visit a little later in the season that they would be followed by masses of a gold-coloured Alstroemeria . A particularly lovely clump of iris, called 'Queen's Grace', is a hybrid of Iris tectorum and Iris wattii , and there are hundreds of young Cardiocrinum giganteum , here another ground cover much like the Aquilegia and Alstroemeria . This only touches on the variety, but is what, along with several gigantic native New Zealand trees, stays prominently in my mind, or is featured in our photo album.

And then, of course, there are the rhododendrons. Again the Maddenia , now including, in addition to those we saw at Sentry Hill, Rhododendron supranubium (now R. pachypodum )and R. lyi . And again the gorgeous R. ciliicalyx , nuttallii , lindleyi , and their crosses. They all would become commonplace in our garden visits, commonplace, that is, in number, not in effect. Rhododendron rhabdotum would bloom later. All these plants are very large, over, say, 8 feet (2.5 meters). Aside from the Maddenia , there are relatively few species rhododendrons in New Zealand private gardens, though this has been changing lately as more specialty nurseries begin offering them. At Gwavas, however, there were very large and beautiful, and fragrant, plants of R. griffithianum and the finest R. edgeworthii I have seen, with exceptionally dark brown indumentum. There are other species at Gwavas, of course, but late blooming ones, like R. fortunei ssp. discolor and R. auriculatum , do not do very well because of the summer heat. Hybrids are numerous at Gwavas, but, it seemed, only the ones that are exceptionally fine, mostly older ones. These include the Loderi Group, in one place a drift of several of 'Loderi King George' about 9 feet (3 meters) high, and some named varieties that one does not commonly see in North America - for instance, 'Loderi Sir Edmund' and 'Loderi Helen'. There was also an exquisite specimen of the Cornish Cross Group, which I, personally, had read about but never seen; now I covet it, as well as a lovely Rothschild hybrid called 'Yvonne Opaline' with beautiful deep pink buds opening to white flowers, and 'Fragrantissimum' about 8 feet (2.5 meters) high and completely covered in flowers. My favorite New Zealand hybrids were here too, of course: 'Ivan D. Wood' (which evidently is occasionally available locally in the Pacific Northwest), 'Mary Tasker', and 'Lalique', which seemed to be getting more beautiful each time we saw it. Strategically placed among all these are hybrid deciduous azaleas, presenting wonderful splashes of strong colour throughout the woodland planting. And, of course, many of these azaleas are very beautiful in their own right. These included, too, several Ghents, some named and some not, a group which now badly needs rescuing.

R. 'Lalique'
'Lalique' at Gwavas
Photo by Joe Ronsley

Having spoken so highly of all these things at Gwavas, and retracting none of it, I must report that the drought here was worse than at Sentry Hill, and there was substantial evidence of it in dead branches and the occasional total loss. While we were there, a very welcome light rain fell, but Michael commented that it wasn't time yet to get out the sandbags. A few years ago, too, there was a terrific wind storm which Michael tells me ripped through one area of large trees leaving none standing and an impenetrable tangle which took a long time to clear by machine. The area is now replanted primarily with young species rhododendrons, indicating that the Hudsons are on the "cutting edge" in New Zealand horticulture.

The next day, Wednesday, Oct. 21st, we were to be transferred from the Hudsons to Berrys, Bob and Anne, close friends who introduced us to the Hudsons in the first place, and with whom we would spend the rest of our time in New Zealand. I mentioned Anne at the beginning of this article. She is Lady Anne, former owner of Rosemoor, who contributed an interesting article to the Journal on her experience of the recent Vancouver convention, at which she was a speaker. She now lives with her husband, Bob, about an hour's drive from Gisborne, at Hackfalls Arboretum, a property of about 2,000 acres of rolling land devoted to cattle and, of course, mainly sheep, as well as to the arboretum. The house overlooks a lovely lake with hills beyond that taking on wonderful light patterns, especially in the late afternoon and evening.

The transfer itself took place quietly, without fanfare, no bagpipes or lowering and raising of flags, but with a lovely picnic at a lake about midway between Gwavas and Hackfalls. We had stopped with the Hudsons to visit a local winery in the late morning and purchased an essential element of the picnic at the same time, meeting the Barrys almost exactly at the time arranged. The picnic was shared by a flock of ducks and a few black swans, and we all had a good time together before we headed off to Hackfalls, and the Hudsons back to Gwavas.

Immediately surrounding the house at Hackfalls is Anne's garden and small nursery, containing many interesting plants of all kinds, including rhododendrons. A huge, old 'White Pearl' (synonym of 'Halopeanum') in tree form was dominant for its interestingly shaped trunk, and the flowers were just opening, beautifully. This is another old hybrid that impressed us repeatedly throughout New Zealand, but the one at Hackfalls was the first that really captured our attention. Another tender hybrid that we had already seen and were to see frequently later on, but which first captured our attention here, was 'Michael's Pride' ( R. burmanicum x R. dalhousiae ), a shrub covered in lovely soft yellow trumpet flowers. Of course, there were the usual maddening Maddenia . One "non-rhododendron" with which I was particularly taken was Viburnum sargentii , a lace cap with white outer non-fertile flowers and clear pink inner fertile flowers. In front of the house were many attractive low growing shrubs, especially Cistus.

Hackfalls Arboretum, near Gisborne NZ
Hackfalls Arboretum, near Gisborne.
Photo by Joe Ronsley

Our tour of the arboretum with Bob and Anne took place the next day. This involved quite a long walk over hills, along ridges and valleys, naturally encountering groups of sheep from time to time. Hackfalls is about 2,000 acres; on our previous visit we went along the other side of the lake; this time we went in the opposite direction. Bob's primary interest is in oaks, especially Mexican species. He has collected about 150 Quercus species at Hackfalls, certainly among the world's larger collections, along with about forty magnolias and numerous Acer , Betula , and several other genera. Most of these trees, especially the oaks, are rather young, but some are mature, and some large and old. The young ones have to be protected from both the sheep and the wind, which can be pretty strong. As at Gwavas, the area has been badly affected by the drought, but it is still all very beautiful, both the trees and the landscape. And, the area being so large, there are more rhododendrons than at first appear, those in the arboretum being larger and more mature than the ones in the house garden. That evening, although Anne was with us for the entire, quite long walk "over hill and dale" through the arboretum, a gracious and elegant dinner party for eight people somehow evolved.

The very impressive public arboretum Eastwoodhill, at which Bob has played an important roll, serving on the Board and actually cataloguing the very large collection, was on the itinerary for the next morning. Following a scenic drive of about two hours (forty-five minutes longer because of the scenic route), we arrived to meet friends of the Barrys: Terrence and Joyce Williams (Terrence has also served on the Board), Shirley Dowdling, and the Eastwoodhill curator, Gary Clapperton, who drove us through the arboretum on a car pulled by a quiet electric-powered tractor. We began the visit, of course, by eating - another delicious picnic, at a table under a large spreading Prunus campanulata . The tree was well past flowering, but Bob pointed out one cluster of late-blooming flowers of an especially beautiful very deep pink. This tree is somewhat tender. In fact, Eastwoodhill is really a little warm for rhododendrons, and there are few of them in the arboretum. Among its 225 acres, however, it does contain over 3,500 different taxa, the largest woody collection in New Zealand. Obviously, it would not be appropriate to mention here all that impressed us, but again I must mention the Myrtus luma , and a signature view of a clump of very tall Pinus patula , looking straight up from their midst to the converging tops against the sky. All in all, both the people and the arboretum provided us with a special day, among many special days.

People and gardens had made our visit memorable during the entire time we were on the North Island, but the next day Joanne and I, and the Berrys, flew via Wellington and Christchurch, to Dunedin on the South Island for a three-night stay before back-tracking to the New Zealand Rhododendron Society conference in Christchurch. The evening of our arrival we were guests of Mick and Jill Reece for dinner (wonderful lamb, as it had been both at the Hudsons and the Berrys, too good, in fact, for us to tire of it). Mick is the Curator/Director of the superb Dunedin Botanic Garden, which we would visit, with his guidance, two days later.

The next morning, however, we visited the garden of David and Elizabeth Sumpter, on a hill overlooking the sea about a half-hour out of Dunedin. Another wonderful garden, the Sumpters' is different from but of a quality shared with Sentry Hill, Gwavas, and Hackfalls. Rhododendrons probably do as well in Dunedin as they do anywhere in the country, or better. Moreover, while much of the east side of the country had been hit by drought, there was little evidence of it in Dunedin. Being much further south than we had been, it is cooler here, but still warm enough for all those tender, spectacular Maddenia, nearly all of which were in the Sumpters' garden. At this point it was not a matter of seeing new rhododendrons, ones which we had not seen before. In fact, there were few new ones, but the best of what we had already seen were here too, beautifully sited, healthy, and full of flower.

In short, we found the now familiar varieties just as exciting as when we first saw them on the North Island. I won't mention the same names again, but there was a new Loderi, for us at least, 'Loderi Fairyland', along with all the others and our favorite New Zealand hybrids, and a few beautiful unnamed hybrids: (Loderi Group x 'Beauty of Littleworth'), ( R. souliei x 'Lady Bessborough') - the same cross as Rothschild's Halcyone Group of which 'Perdita' is a selection - and ( R. decorum x 'Crest'). Notable, too, were two lovely Michelia: M. yunnanense and another with a confused identity in our records.

The Sumpters have a particularly charming house, well worth seeing in itself, though they are about to build a larger one on the property, keeping this one for their visiting children. Meanwhile, it was the day of the championship rugby game, and the local Otago (a district that includes the city of Dunedin) team was playing in Dunedin. David and Elizabeth, dressed in the team colours of blue and yellow, were going to the game that afternoon, and were appropriately all worked up about it. (The home team won, by the way, with consequent great joy and celebration in the city.) But toward noon two other visitors appeared, the locally well-known garden writer for New Zealand House and Garden , Gordon Collier, and the equally well-known photographer for the same magazine, Paul McCredie. These two simply added to the particularly excellent company of the morning, and somehow, despite the imminent big game, an elaborate and delicious lunch appeared for us all, before David and Elizabeth rushed off to the game and we took our departure. Like the sheep, this warm hospitality is New Zealand too!

We moved on to Lanarch Castle, now a hotel. The garden here, through which we were guided by the proprietor Margaret Barker, was quite beautiful, with fine views and many fine plants, but somehow Joanne and I did not find it quite so personally sympathetic, or exciting, as those we had already experienced.

On our final day in Dunedin we met Curator/Director Mick Reece at the fabulous Botanical Garden, certainly one of the finest in the country. Although most of the garden in which we were particularly interested, and which we visited, involved naturalistic woodland plantings, we began in a grass area winding among large curved beds of Ghent-type azaleas. Most, evidently, have been raised in New Zealand and are not named, but the effect was wonderful. As we moved on there were also several Loderis, that is, Rhododendron fortunei x R. griffithianum crosses, again unnamed but beautiful. One quite special New Zealand clone is named, however - 'Loderi Irene Stead' (parentage unknown), named after the wife of Edgar Stead of Ilam fame and bearing deep pink flowers. Then there were a good many miscellaneous, spectacular, unnamed hybrids, often clearly containing in their make-up either R. griffithianum or various Maddenia .

R. falconeri at the Dunedin Botanical Garden
Joanne Ronsely and R. falconeri at
the Dunedin Botanical Garden.
Photo by Joe Ronsley

But at the Dunedin Botanic Garden there are more species rhododendrons than we had seen before. (Our visit did not include Pukeiti, which in any case was inundated by torrential rains.) There were R. maddenii , johnstoneanum , lindleyi , nuttallii , and their ilk, of course, but also wonderful, cream-coloured R. sidereum , large plants of R. griffithianum , and at least one memorable R. falconeri , approximately 15 feet (4.5 meters) high or more. There were others, especially large-leaf species, young or not in bloom, or simply not quite so memorable. And finally, there was Rick's special pride, a ravine containing several huge-say, 15 to 20 feet (4.5 to 6 meters) high, with quite massive trunks-tree fuchsias with tiny flowers but remarkable in their being fuchsias at all. Obviously, the plants themselves in this botanic garden are very special, but so was the woodland planting. Mick Reece has done a marvelous job. There is also a huge rock garden which would keep alpine enthusiasts busy for some time, but we used up the entire morning in the woodland. While Mick Reece is in charge of the entire botanic garden, it is Doug Thomson who is the specialist and directly in charge of the rhododendrons. We didn't meet Doug until the Christchurch conference in the following days, during which I'm afraid I made a nuisance of myself with questions during the garden visits, primarily in the matter of identification. Doug, however, was most patient and kind.

Finally that afternoon we visited Brant and Patricia Murdoch at their home nursery, Dalebrook. Brent works for Cadbury's Chocolates and Patricia is a university administrator, but they have begun a small nursery dealing only with species rhododendrons, which, as I have said, are just beginning to be a major interest of New Zealand rhododendron enthusiasts. What was exciting for us, however, is that they have seedlings coming along, thousands it would appear, of all the newly introduced Asian species and new collections of the old ones, the same ones being introduced currently in the UK, by Steve Hootman at our own Rhododendron Species Foundation, and by Peter Wharton at the Asian Garden at the University of British Columbia. This, in fact, is what dominates their stock, or perhaps makes it up entirely. We saw a lot of Brent and Patricia at the Christchurch conference a couple days later, and we have become good friends.

Our Dunedin stay ended with a superb dinner at a lovely atmospheric restaurant called "A Cow Called Bertha." Dunedin was special from beginning to end. We flew to Christchurch the following morning, Oct. 27th, with the conference beginning that evening. We and the Berrys checked into the two-story suite we were sharing at the conference hotel, The Grand Chancellor. Anne picked up our registration packets that afternoon, but the conference began for me a little later when I provided entry to one of its conveners, Ron Ayling, into the registration area through a door which could only be opened from the inside. Ron had somehow got himself locked outside. The occasion marked what I like to think will be a lasting friendship.

I will only make a few general comments about the conference itself because I think I have gone on long enough already. Clint Smith led a group of American ARS members to it, and perhaps one of them will write an article doing it justice. While we were pleased to meet so many wonderful New Zealanders, including Joanna Martin, who was already a member of our ARS Vancouver Chapter, and the Murdochs and Denis Hughes (a nurseryman from West Otago with a reputation of plantsman extraordinaire ) who were soon to be members, Jenny Hart who had been through our garden during the 1997 Vancouver convention, Kathryn Millar, the other Christchurch conference convener with whom I had been in correspondence previously, and others, we were also pleased to make several new friendships much closer to home, just to the south: Paul Anderson, Bob and Coleen George, Vance and Barbara McDonald, Nan Ray, Clint Smith, Rex and Jeanine Smith, and Fred and Ann Whitney. Jeanine was one of the conference's featured speakers, and Clint and Fred both conducted workshops.

Unlike our ARS conferences, the registration fee in New Zealand covers everything, including many meals and the banquet, and the garden tours. And I must say the hospitality, in food and wine, was lavish. There is something most appealing about this all-inclusive fee, though as a practical matter it could be argued both ways. The garden tours, too, were excellent, and included some outstanding gardens, though we found it difficult to be really fair in our judgment, in that we had visited such sensational gardens before arriving in Christchurch.

Among many fine gardens which it is not my intention to slight, a few do stand out in our highly subjective memories: Garth and Elizabeth Gould's garden, especially a magnificent plant of Rhododendron magnificum , with its magnificent new growth; Clifton, a garden belonging to Shirely and Pat Abbot, especially the Loderis and Maddenia , Barbara Kerr's garden; Gordon and Judy O'Neil's garden, Windrush, with sweeping lawns backed by huge rhododendrons; Kathryn and Geoff Millar's garden, Wendrum, including many beautiful things, but particularly a plant of the elegant, soft yellow hybrid 'Roza Stevenson' which I had never seen before, and a sensational R. elliottii , which one doesn't get much chance to see in the Pacific Northwest either; the massive drifts of deciduous azaleas in brilliant colour at the famous Ilam - wonderful to my peasant sensibility, but a little vulgar for Lady Anne! - along, of course, with everything else that takes one's breath away; and Ron and Alison Ayling's lovely streamside garden, Gartmore. I do hope someone will write more about this wonderful conference and these beautiful gardens.

R. elliottii
R. elliottii at the Kathryn and Geoff Millar garden.
Photo by Joe Ronsley

There were only three lectures at the conference, all of them good: Joe Cartman's "Rare and Unusual Companion Plants," Jeanine Smith's "Labour of Love in an Evolving Garden," and the banquet talk by Sir Miles Warren, "The Contrast Between the Craft and the Art of Gardening." There were also workshops: on hostas, propagation, alpines, species, the Rhododendron Species Foundation, and hybridizing. There was a silent auction and a book launching for Crossing the Rubicon , a handbook of New Zealand raised and registered rhododendrons, edited by Brian Coker and Kathryn Millar and published by the Canterbury Rhododendron Society.

On the final day we visited the rhododendron show, with a truss competition more extensive than any I have ever seen. And the last evening we were honoured to be among about twenty guests of Ron and Alison Ayling for an exquisite dinner with lively company at the Christchurch Club.

It will not surprise anyone at this point if I say I strongly recommend New Zealand in October, though, unless you lived in California or some such place, there is a kind of masochism in going to see all those Maddenia . On our way home to Vancouver from New Zealand we stopped for a few days in the Cook Islands - straight hedonism this! And I recommend it too.

Joe and Joanne Ronsley's mountainside garden in Lions Bay, British Columbia, was one of several gardens toured during the 1997 ARS Annual Convention.