Late February 2017

Hello Everyone

Late February 2017

I am sometimes asked to write about other things that are going on in the gardening world, as well as at Frensham, and I do this whenever some news comes my way.

This month I would like to write about the Christchurch branch of the New Zealand Alpine Garden Society,
As this website gives all of the relevant information I will add a couple of things to what has been said there. The group is very welcoming, and as a member who has rejoined after many years’ absence, I was told that should I come to a meeting “ … it is a good idea to get there half an hour before the meeting start time as we often have plants for sale and it can be a good time to meet some members. If you are planning on coming along I will let Judith know so she can show you about.” At the next meeting on Thursday 2nd March, Klaus Gaetnermeister, a senior staff member at the Swiss Alpine Botanic Garden at Davos, and he will speak about growing natives as well as species introduced to the area from around the world.

In a recent journal of the NZAGS, Judith Stephens wrote an article after the group had visited our garden last autumn.

So perhaps you could think about joining? There are also branches in Nelson, Otago, South Canterbury and Southland.

Frensham – an Autumn garden – Judith Stephens

“Many of you will have seen the ‘Gardener’s Journals’ that Margaret Long produced during 2008 and 2009. I was browsing the popular Book Sale held in Akaroa at Show Weekend last November, and came across a set of them. I hadn’t seen them before so picked up a couple and bought them. At the time I wished I had bought the complete set. But if I had, I wouldn’t have met Margaret or visited her garden. When I got home I read the two copies cover to cover and decided I would try and find the rest of the issues.

I advertised in the NZAGS newsletter and got a good response but I also rang Margaret to find out more. She invited me to come out to meet her and pick up any copies I didn’t have. I mentioned to some friends that I was going there, and in the end, ten of us met at this lovely garden in Old Tai Tapu Road for morning tea and a stroll around the garden. We were lucky, it was a beautiful April morning. Margaret welcomed us and we sat in a sunny courtyard partaking of muffins and tea. While we relaxed under the umbrella Margaret spoke to us about Frensham. It is 2 1/2 acres and when they bought it 24 years ago there was almost nothing apart from a row of shelter trees.

Since then, many more trees and shrubs have been planted, a potager vegetable garden, which features Ilex hendersonii, with its berries not yet in full colour, many buxus hedges and other perennials have filled the spaces. It is hard to tell what Margaret is most fond of- there are lots of irises, hydrangeas, and lilies. One little purple pompom dahlia caught our eye- it was standing tall and proud. Margaret can’t remember its name but does save bits from it year after year. Behind the potager is a living willow trellis, which intrigued me with the intricacy of the weaving and how healthy it looked. Lacecap hydrangeas fill spaces under large acers, dozens of birches with attractive bark and a fine variegated elm. A large Nicotiana sylvestris snuggled in a sunny spot close to the house with dozens of seedlings waiting for spring crowding underneath it. Hypertufa troughs filled with fritillaria and countless bulbs are hibernating. Many of these came from Charlie Challenger’s nursery in Little River in the 1980s.

We wandered through narrow paths surrounded by very healthy Japanese anemones, roses rhododendrons and hostas nearly at the end of their summer bloom and across an expansive lawn with large maples and numerous trees just breaking into autumn colour. In another week or two the hues will be spectacular.

The house is nestled a little lower than the garden and features brick paths and walls dividing the planted areas. The front of the house is framed by nine Prunus serrula, commonly known as mahogany-barked cherry, with its attractive bark. Margaret says she planned the garden to have a vista from anywhere, trying to create a longer view, and to appeal to gardeners at any time of the year. She has a small collection of plants in her propagating shed and shade house for sale, as well as many growing on to be put back into the garden to fill up spaces. The garden is ever evolving- the common white Japanese anemone is making way this year for more interesting pink varieties and a new area is developing beyond the potager.Frensham is just a few kilometres from the centre of Christchurch. It can be visited any time of the year by contacting Margaret by phone or through her informative website and you can keep up to date by receiving her monthly newsletters. I would definitely recommend a visit.”

So perhaps you could think about joining? There are also branches in Nelson, Otago, South Canterbury and Southland.

I had an email from a lady who travelled with me on one of my tours to France some years ago. Judith Anne works beautiful embroidery.

Photo 1: The Garden Club. Photo by J. A. Aldridge.

I quoted recently where “older men and women plant trees which they will never sit under.” So true it is of so many of us.

My tour leader colleague and friend, Stan Smith, from Central Victoria, planted a Queensland Kauri as his contribution to Australia Day recently.

Photo 2: The Queensland Kauri. Photo by S. Smith

A gardening friend, who visits Frensham Gardens each year when she is here from the UK, sent me these three photos taken at the Christchurch Lily Society’s meeting.

Photo 3: Lily ‘Tiger Woods’. Photo: J Griffen
Photo 4: Lily ‘Belonica’. By J.G.

This month we are continuing to water, compost, cut back and generally keep the garden maintenance up. I am very much looking forward to the flowering of the first gladioli that I have ever grown; I will share the photo with you.



About Frensham

Our relaxed country garden started twenty nine years ago. In the early days I had very little gardening experience and no vision for the site, but an interest in plants was quickly developing. Over the years, with much trial and error, a garden has emerged which we and our visitors do enjoy.

© Frensham. All rights reserved.

Quick Contact

139 Old Tai Tapu Rd, Christchurch 8025, New Zealand
+64 3 3228 061

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