Delphiniums, family and fun

Monday, December 31, 2007

New Year's Eve 2007

This blog just has to be about a wonderful summer (so far), what happens when pollination coincides with Christmas and why our country closes down for two weeks at this time of year.

Although summer in New Zealand officially starts at the beginning of December it is rare for us to enjoy, warm, settled weather before the end of the first week in January. People however, always forget and complain bitterly when their Christmas barbecue is hijacked by totally normal, cool, breezy weather. Not so this year, at least not in Wanganui. Since the second week in November we’ve been basking in 20DegC+ weather with only the odd day of rain and cooler temperatures.We’ve had more summer before the end of December than we often enjoy all year. Next week looks like more of the same ....25DegC, sunny and dry. I'll have to water the garden to keep it looking like this...

What rain we have had has been plentiful and warm, cementing a beaming smile onto the faces of local farmers who’ve just learned that their dairy payout rate for the year will be, yet again, a record. This means more money per kilogram of milk solids and more production too.

What a Christmas! Farmers are smiling. Unprecedented!

Christmas has however taken its toll. I’m feeling lazy. We’ve had our children and grandchildren to visit for a week, Caroline and Bruno, (some dear, young friends from Angers, France) on holiday in NZ and calling in to see us and friends generally, making our life a really nice one....But it’s time to start work again. - for Janice and I at least. The tradesmen taking a four week break in the middle of building our new plastic house have other ideas, likewise the council who are dragging the chain with a building consent for our house extension. For the exalted, things are different.

For our pollinating staff, things are different too. Our delphiniums choose to flower at their fullest right on Christmas and the New Year. This is normal for them and a pain for the pollinators. I wonder if it would be worth investigating supplementary lighting to force them (the delphiniums, not the pollinators) to flower a week earlier.

By and large however, unless you are a farmer or employed in retail, health and other essential government services (such as police) the period from December 25th until January 6th or 7th represents holiday time. This is because the kids are off school, no-one wants to work between Christmas and the New Year, the do-it-yourselfers want to use their new hand tools they got for Christmas and the weather is starting to settle. The fact that half the population is on holiday too, all the beaches are packed, the roads are chocker, tempers are frayed,the hole in the ozone layer is peaking the money is spent and the settled weather is likely to be punctuated with tropical downpours does nothing to dampen this unbridled enthusiasm for torment and tan. We NZers are gluttons for punishment.....which is why I took a jet boat ride up the Whanganui River with Caroline and Bruno, to see the “Bridge to Nowhere”. The image on the right is taken from the bridge looking down into the Maungaparoa stream - quite a way below. To the left are Caroline and Bruno.

Today is New Year’s Eve. Janice and I and some friends will be taking a midnight cruise on the paddle steamer “Waimarie”. We’ll have a great time, relax and be happy. Tomorrow, well, just about time to get back to work again. Ok, just one more day off!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Raising the roof

Ok, I’ll start this blog by answering a delphinium question then get on to telling you what’s

happening at our place.

The image to the right is "Juanita" blooming in our garden.

When is the best time to sow delphinium seed in Alberta?

I really love questions like this as there are so many right answers. Just how long is that piece of string? The best I can do is to suggest what I know some people do find successful.

The best time to sow seed in Alberta will depend on the method you use. If you have Gro Lights and can keep your greenhouse free of frost then November or December is a popular time to sow. Sow in a flat and prick out into small (3 inch) pots You would then have good plants to plant out at snow melt. If you can't do this then sowing in flats in February will be the way to go. Some folk sow in late summer, just as the heat is coming off, and have plants large enough to overwinter under a good layer of mulch.
Whichever method you use, remember that seed should be stored in the frig until you need to sow it. Never buy delphinium seed that may have been sitting on a garden centre shelf for a while, especially during, or just after summer (like just when you need to buy it). Delphinium seed loses viability very quickly at room temperature so unless it is stored in the frig at the garden centre, you are unlikely to get good results.

Good results on the right..........................................................

We sell properly stored seed and culture notes come with the seed we sell. This information and much more, is available free from the information pages on our web site :

Right, what’s happening here?

The new growing house continues to grow. The frame is up and the builders are waiting for a nice calm morning to put the roof on. I hope this comes soon as we’re paying for their accommodation! They’ve already missed a couple of good “skinning” opportunities by not knowing the local weather and, I presume, trusting the advice of their boss in Christchurch (several hundred kilometres away) rather than consulting with me. Hey, I only live here and follow the weather with a passion! No! I’m not angry and frustrated!

Having a plastic growing house built (as opposed to building it yourself – I’ve done both) can be frustrating on other counts too. Firstly, haven taken care to ensure that the builders know my requirement for the house to be either level (which the site is), or sloping slightly to the south. They have managed to construct is sloping to the north. This means that the rainwater water from the roof runs to the wrong end of the house and now has to be piped an extra 45 metres back to holding tanks. It’s a good job that I have acknowledgement of my requirements in writing - thank goodness for email!

Pollination is in full swing and we are employing eight people now. This will continue until early January when the work will lessen and we can return to two or three staff. I’m not doing much really, just keeping my head low and all the balls in the air – so don’t distract me - Ow, my foot!

Apart from a few days, the last 4 weeks have been gloriously warm and quite sunny too. Day temperatures have been several degrees above average and all plants are growing away like they want an early Christmas. I guess the pohutakawa trees will be flowering soon.

Have a Merry Christmas



Tuesday, December 4, 2007


Isn’t it great now that summer’s here and we can all relax at the beach? Ha!

It’s all go at the nursery at the moment:

Our open week end was a great success and the weather warm and sunny. Good delphiniums, well grown, are a wonderful sight and the oohs and ahs from the visitors are a treat to hear.

The builders are making excellent progress erecting the new plastic growing house and the pollinators are now well into the swing of things.

We have three builders climbing over steel framing now. After starting with the foundations last Thursday progress has been swift and no-one has fallen off yet. They tell me it will be completed by Dec 18th and I believe that they believe that. It will be interesting to see how it goes.

The new growing house is 45 metres long x 19 metres wide with three metre high walls - the apex being about 4.5 metres high. The side walls can be rolled up and the roof has ventilators over about 40% of its area. The house should be cool and great for growing and pollinating delphiniums.

Right now I’m trying to sort out the irrigation, floor covering and storm-water. The rain will be collected from the roof and piped into two 25,000 litre tanks, supplementing the metered supply from the local farm water scheme. From there is will be injected with fertiliser and fed, over 10 times a day, to our breeding delphinium stock.

While all this is happening we have half a dozen staff pollinating delphiniums and it also coincides with local contractors spraying weeds in preparation for us planting our steep gullies with native trees and shrubs. I’m really looking forward to returning some of the land to native bush.

This season has seen us producing more plants for sale in New Zealand and although the plant season is coming to an end we still shipped a hundred or so flowering delphinium plants in 8 litre bags today. These plants range in height from 1 to 1.8 metres (up to 6ft).

Life is quite busy right now and I still haven’t got round to sowing the superb hybrid day lily seeds that are waiting patiently in our frig. Tomorrow – well next week anyway.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Open Days

Our annual open week end is this coming December 1st and 2nd. We’re open from 9am until 4pm. This is the time of year when most of the delphiniums are in flower and there are always a steady flow of visitors with cameras. Visitors love to see pollination demonstrations but mostly they just ogle the delphiniums and wonder how they can repeat that in their own garden. Simple, buy our plants and seeds and follow the instructions!

I love these open days. They are like an annual validation of the work we do and I just love to see people enjoying the sight.

This year the large paddock of seedlings on trial will not be there as we’re using the land to build another plastic house, which may well be started by then December 1st. There will still be plenty to see however as we have a few hundred flowering plants outside to supply pollen for the seed crossing. The two existing plastic houses (600 square metres total) are loaded with delphiniums in flower too.

Come and enjoy the day with us. If you are unable to make it at the week end then give us a call anyway and we’ll try to arrange a suitable time for you to drop in. We had two travelling couples, a mother and daughter from Canada and a couple from Sweden, call in last week so if you are avaid gardeners touring New Zealand, give us a call, we’ll be happy to arrange a time for you to visit.

More questions answered:

Do we ship plants to the USA?

Many folk ask if we ship plants outside New Zealand. The answer, unfortunately, is no – we only ship seeds. If, however, you would like a plant similar to say, Sarita or Sunrise (for example), then ask and we will suggest the best possible seedline to give you a great chance of producing similar plants.

Dwindles? What are they?

I was recently asked if I get “Dwindles”. At first I thought this may be a personal question that I don’t care to answer but then realised it may be referring to plants that gradually lose vigour and don’t come back the next year. Yes, we do get the occasional dwindle. In seed grown plants there is always a chance of the odd weak one. It is useful to remember that the soil in your garden can vary enormously over very small distances. You may have perfectly healthy soil in one place only to find that a couple of metres away there is either a disease problem, fertiliser imbalance or some physical difference that can have a large impact. Don’t always assume that “dwindles” are the fault of the plant.

How often should I divide my delphiniums?

Unfortunately this is very akin to asking “How long is a piece of string”. It depends on the plant, the climate, the soil and most of all, the personal preference of the gardener. As a general rule I suggest that if your delphiniums are taller than you would like, have thinner stems than ideal, are too crowded for your taste or have a very large crown but send up weak shoots, it may be time to divide. The best time to do this is in the very early spring when the new growth is either just about to start or very shortly afterwards (shoots are only just breaking buds or no more than an inch or so tall). Use whatever method suits you and damages the crown and roots the least.

We very rarely divide ours and don't have a vigour loss problem. I know
many folk do divide the clumps after a couple of years though, with good

The image to the right is of our delphiniums growing in the garden of Anne Cooke of Dawson Creek BC, Canada

Cheers for now


Sunday, November 4, 2007

Any Questions?

Now that autumn (ok, fall) has come to the northern hemisphere, gardeners are turning to bedding down their gardens for winter and planning for the spring. We know this because there has been a flurry of questions and seed orders are picking up again too. As well as answering questions by email I’m posting the information on the blog so that it’s available to all. If you have tips to offer, remedies to share or stories to tell, please feel free to comment or email me directly and so help build this resource. Names may be changed, or items remain anonymous, to protect the innocent.

I’ll try to keep this going every week. So, this week:

Can I grow delphiniums in heavy, water-logged clay?

A couple of years ago Syd, in zone 5 to 6, had trouble growing his plants in soil that “may get water logged from heavy rains, or snowmelt in the winter. It then takes awhile to dry out. If I dig a 12 inch hole and it rains heavily, the hole fills with water and takes days to dry out”. It can be difficult in summer too.

We had a chat about this and I suggest planting the delphiniums in raised beds with
their roots and potting mix only half in the ground. “Then add composted manure
or other light mulch to cover the root ball well. You could do this to the extent

that the planted plant looks like it is on a hole in the mulch. The delph will love the moist
clay but many of the roots will also be growing in the mulch which will be well
drained and full of oxygen and minerals. Once the mulch rots away replace with new. I will lay a pound to a penny that this solves the problem”.

Syd wrote back this week to say that it had, to a large degree, worked. If you have ground prone to water-logging then a similar strategy may help. I discovered this myself when one, very wet winter I simply dug up the delphiniums (loud sucking noise) in a similarly waterlogged garden, left them lying on the ground and promptly forgot about them until the spring, by which time they had grown new roots in the soil beneath and were well on the way to flowering. It worked a treat. Don’t worry about them getting too dry in the winter – they will be dormant and completely unconcerned, growing new roots when they need them.

Take care with insecticides, especially “systemics” on young seedlings.

Clouding the issue with Syd’s delphiniums was the fact that he was battling with compost fly in the propagation house. Not only do the larvae chew on the roots of young seedlings, the flies also spread damping off diseases. Syd had attacked the flies, a little too enthusiastically, with a systemic, granular insecticide. He killed them alright but nearly killed the seedlings too. They were looking pale and disinterested but when planted out recovered quite well.

There are a few issues here. Plants that have fought off damping off, or generally had a difficult start to life, seldom grow away as vigorously as they should. That’s one of the reasons Syd’s original plants didn’t grow well in the garden. Although the batch drenched with insecticide (to stop the compost fly and damping off) almost died, they grew away again when planted out, still free of the damping off pathogens. However, compost fly can be dealt with less severely and more safely. If compost fly is a problem I'd spray or, preferably, drench the soil with Bacillus Thuringiensis (BT) at the time of sowing. These bacteria attack the larvae of the compost fly and don’t damage the seedlings.

Once the seedlings are well emerged choose a warm, airy day (if you have any then) and water them again with the BT.

Thuricide, containing BT may also be used to control other caterpillars and it won’t harm beneficial insects. One source of supply is here:

It should be available at most garden centres.

How do I avoid “Damping Off”

This is a regular. Firstly, take care of your hygiene and be mindful of things that may spread disease (like Syd’s compost fly, or excessive water). Avoid overwatering seedlings and don’t water or spray overhead in conditions that will result in the seedlings being damp for more than an hour or so. You can find plenty of information about the control of damping off on our web site, here:

One of the best strategies is to use seed raising mix that has a trichoderma fungus incorporated. Your garden centres should be able to help with this. It works better than anything else you will find. It isn’t a chemical though and because it is such a cheap and effective control you may not find it promoted well.

If you can’t find this at a garden centre then try your local organic gardening club. I’m trying to find a northern hemisphere source on the Internet, but with little success. Can anyone help?

In New Zealand “Dalton’s” seed raising mix contains trichoderma fungus - and is simply wonderful.

Other stuff

The new plastic house we are building is taking shape. The 45 metre x 20 metre floor is finished, trenches for services dug and the construction team due to arrive in a week or three. We’re hoping to produce a crop of seed from this house in late summer. Don’t worry, we will be pollinating in the old house in just a week or so.

That’s all for now.



Monday, October 8, 2007


Janice and I took three days off last weekend and rested up with friends in Napier in warm, sunny weather. We also saw the show “Cats”. Great relaxation it was - as we both almost fell asleep during the first act. The weekend, however, was great.

Back to work today and there’s plenty to do. I’m still waiting for a break in the Wanganui weather to ready the second plastic house for recovering. It will come – just so long as it’s before late November when the delphiniums it holds are in flower and we’re trying to pollinate them please. Orders for plants are steady and we’ve noted a trend over the past few seasons for gardeners to order more cutting grown varieties. This is great news as they produce a wonderful show when grown in blocks of like clones.

The delphinium plants are enjoying the cool, damp weather and growing very quickly. Please though, don’t send us weather similar to that which plagued the English a few months ago. We don’t need that diseased stuff down here.

The new plastic house we’re building for our expanded seed production is waiting on drier weather and for me to pull my finger out and..... get the grass eaten off, shift a few plants and a rabbit fence, order the white weed mat floor covering, water tanks, drain pipes etc. etc. Not much really but it needs to be done in the next week as we could start building in late October.

Last week saw the completion of a retaining wall at the edge of the parking area behind the house garage. This will be useful . Not only will it stop the prospect of the orchard falling onto the parking area below but it will also allow visitors a little more room to park their cars. The wall has steps set at one end to make access to the orchard easier and tidies up the approach to the house. While the digger was here we also had a track cut from the car park up to the top of the lawn – to give tractor access to the orchard and future garden, and some other drainage work at the nursery.

I haven’t received many questions about delphiniums in the past few weeks. This is not normal. One of the main reasons for setting up this blog was to build a delphinium culture resource so I’m hoping I get asked a few curly ones soon.

Enough for now. I’m still lethargic from a relaxed weekend.



Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Pollinators Wanted

Ok, this is it. Spring in New Zealand doesn't hang around. The plum blossom is over, the peach almost finished, apples just starting and the fruits on the native Puriri tree are turning red. Wood pigeons will soon be getting drunk on them.

It is clearly time to panic - the first delphinium spikes have buds in them already! This season will be a big one as we are building another 900 square metre plastic growing house which we hope to fill with delphiniums for pollination and have a seed crop from them. We are also renewing the covers on our old houses (one out of two are complete) which are already filling up with mother stock for the first pollination. The images show the old plastic, covered with pine pollen, being removed.

To complicate matters a little we have agreed to supply a couple of hundred flowering delphiniums in 8 litre pots in and around the time of the Ellerslie Flower Show in mid November. Our mail order sales of young delphinium plants have been good this spring and we are looking forward to October when many gardeners in New Zealand have nursed their existing borders and are looking for a new challenge...gotta have more delphiniums!

The main focus of our attention however is ensuring that we have sufficient parent plant material for our pollination and that the female parents are matched by male parents that will flower at the same time - sometimes a worry. It is also important that we recruit half a dozen good pollinators, usually students, over the summer. Being seasonal work it is difficult to retain staff from year to year and every new season is a challenge.

What makes this even more interesting is that although new pollinators are all trained the same way and appear to do the work in the same fashion, results vary markedly. Although apparently a mundane job our best pollinators have traditionally been very intelligent people with a genuine interest in horticulture. If you are very intelligent, and you obviously are if you're reading this, and would like a few month's playing with flowers in New Zealand then why not give me a call 64 6 3421733. Age doesn't matter as long as you're seventeen or over.

Ok, tis spring and I'm needed outside


Thursday, September 13, 2007

Staff Treats

Janice and I had a great day today. Both of our permanent staff have been here about a year now so we decided to take them out for a treat. Janice had read of a great scheme another boss had tried when he wanted to treat his staff, so we gave it a go.

On Monday we told them that Thursday would not be a normal working day but instead, we would meet them in a Wanganui for coffee at 9:30am and then take them somewhere. No clues were given. As we had a consignment of seeds to take to Palmerston North for a phytosanitary certificate we decided that that would be the destination. We didn’t, of course, tell the two staff members (Edita and Debbie). We just set off on our mystery day.

Palmerston North is about an hour’s drive away. They’d already had three days to wonder what this was all about so were quite hyped up when we arrived. They were even more excited when we gave them $100 each and told them that they had an hour to spend it and that it must be on things for themselves. Not for the kids. Not for the kitchen. Just for them. They had instructions to keep the receipts and that the one who was closest to spending the entire $100 would receive a further surprise.

After the hour was up (they took about 1hour and a quarter actually) Janice and I had finished our business and we took Edita and Debbie to lunch at an Italian restaurant in the city. Here we had them “show and tell” and add up their receipts. They’d spent well on, surprise, surprise, clothes. They had both had a lot of fun and so had we. It was a treat for all. After lunch we drove home and they had the rest of the day off.

The extra surprise went to Deddie – two free tickets to the Last Night of the Proms concert in Wanganui on Saturday night.

I had a great time after arriving home too, mulching some blossoming plum trees with compost and mowing the lawn, finishing just as the light faded.

This was a great day and one I would recommend to all employers. Debbie and Edita are good workers and really loved the appreciation.....and the nursery is about to get really busy.

Back to work tomorrow.

Saturday, September 8, 2007


Woops, I’ve not written for a few days.

Spring is certainly here, the poplars are coming into leaf, the plums are flowering, the tulips are waiting to catch the rain, the magpies are defending their nests and the delphiniums, like the lawns, are growing all too quickly.

Janice is very busy either sending out seed orders, writing up plant orders, blogging, quilting, maintaining the office and keeping in contact with the kids and grandkids.

My mother, Glenys Dowdeswell, who lives in Auckland, regularly visits dad who has Alzheimer’s disease and is being cared for in a secure institution in that city. Alex, my brother, is in the south island of New Zealand scouting sites for photography in his quest to produce an iconic book of New Zealanders in their own country. It has take two years so far, full time, he’s a perfectionist. Daughter Emma, in her mid thirties, has finally been offered a permanent job in a large New Zealand company testing software. She had only managed to get year-long contracts to date. She’s rather chuffed as she has just passed some new international exams for this type of work. Son John sounds as happy as ever and, being in Auckland also, gets to see my dad each week too. I really envy him that. Daughter Sarah has just enjoyed a week of sick kids and cabin fever. All in all life progresses very well for the Dowdeswell families.

Last week the company who supplies our potting compost, Dalton’s Ltd, increased the price from $185 to $275per cubic metre. Really! Naturally, this week has been spent checking out other suppliers and it seems we may have found a winner. Natural Bark and Compost Ltd of Foxton (one hour south of Wanganui) will do the mix for around $185 delivered – but there’s more. This company produce a compost which is a mixture of chicken manure and granulated bark. It looks wonderful, real garden friendly looking stuff and has an analysis that suggests we may be able to use it instead of potting mix. This is great as it is more environmentally friendly and only $60 per cubic metre! Every cloud etc...

In the nursery Edita and Debbie are busy sending out plant orders, taking cuttings and potting up mother plants for next season’s seed crop. The latter is what we need the potting mix for at present. Next week will be a tad busy as the cuttings are coming thick and fast and there’s no let up in the plant orders. Seed orders are ticking over quite nicely too.

Ok, I’ll go out and take a photo of the plum tree for this blog and then tackle the mowing of the lawns.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Alice Artindale

Wednesday 25th August

Answering emails from people interested in delphiniums is often a major part of my day. A number of questions come up regularly so I’ve decided to post these questions and answers, or maybe a summary of them, to this blog from time to time.

Yesterday we had an enquiry from someone wanting to trace the old cultivar, Alice Artindale. This delphinium is double flowered with small florets that can look similar to a reflex chrysanthemum, only they are a blue/mauve colour never seen in chrysanthemums. The florets are compact and can be widely spaced up the stem.

This delphinium was created the same year as Jim Mann Taylor. I’ve no idea when that was but his parents were married in 1925. I know this because Jim has a genealogy web site at: and tells us that delphinium “Alice Artindale has stood the test of time. Ted Barker of William Artindale and Son spotted the unusual plant and it was named after the boss's wife Alice”. There is an image of delphinium Alice Artindale on the web site of Dr David Bassett at

Like all double flowered delphiniums Alice can be something of a chameleon and David’s image looks quite different to that of Jim Mann Taylor’s on the NCCPG plant heritage web site at

Will the real Alice Artindale please take the stand!

Well, the question was “where can I buy plants of Alice Artindale?” I don’t know. I can do no better than refer you to the web site of the Delphinium Society and David and Jim at the web sites above.

If anyone knows Alice’s whereabouts could you please drop me a line or add a comment to this blog?

As I don't have an image of Alice Artindale this is a photo of our own Sarita. A double flowered delphinium similar in some respects to Alice.



Saturday, August 25, 2007

Getting back into it

Saturday 25th August

Today has been a day spent working on updating articles for the web site and writing promotion material for sellers of our seed and plants to use. Naturally I needed a few breaks and took time off this morning to quickly walk around the local Saturday market with Janice and then join our friends, Robert and Jennifer, for a cup of coffee (orange for me) and a game of crib at a local coffee house. I’m just back from the second break, a 38 minute bike ride, and procrastinating before getting ready to take Robert and Jennifer (again), who looked after aspects of our business while we were away last month, out for a thank-you dinner.

Six weeks away without much exercise turned a 35 minute bike ride into a 38 minute one. Mmmmm, there’s work to be done on that.

Speaking of work, Janice has been busy too, installing a new computer. The one in the packing shed finally gave up the ghost while we were away so my old machine will go up to the shed and I’ll have the new one. This is the first time I’ve ever had the new, high spec pc as it usually goes to Janice, who knows how to use these things.

This week has seen the taking of cuttings start in earnest, preparing for the new seed production season. We’re more than doubling the covered growing area this season, adding another 850 square metre plastic growing house which I hope will be completed in time to grow a seed crop before the end of summer. With the expansion of our delphinium plant business in New Zealand (mail order and to nurseries) plus the increase in seed production, this season may be a tad busy! Oh, I forgot to mention the returning of much of our land into native bush - we’re making a start on that this year too.

The image is a native wood pigeon, the Kereru, on the elm outside our living room. These birds love to perch on the trees around the house and in the native bush.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Delphiniums on Iron Mountain

One of the highlights of our trip to Oregon last month was a visit to Iron Mountain, near the town of Sisters in the Cascade mountain range. Alice Doyle of Loghouse plants had suggested we might just have the timing right and Stephen Murphy, a very good friend from Mt Vernon, drove me there while Janice was checking out the quilts in Sisters. Boy, did we have the timing right!
It was a hot, sunny morning and as we arrived and began wandering up to the alpine meadow it was obvious that there was much in flower. This image shows a mass of various delphinium species along with Indian Paintbrush (Castilleja) species, artemisia, myosotis and much more. Not being a great plantsman it was good to have Stephen's company and help with identification. There was only one down side to the trip. Here I am, quite fit from regular biking and walking and what do I do but pull a calf muscle before reaching the top...too much sitting in cars and planes I guess. This restricted me a little for the next week or so but didn't stop me having a great time in Mt Vernon that night when the whole town put on a fantastic fireworks display for us. I remember the date - July 4th.

Starting up

Spring has sprung in New Zealand. The willows are sprouting new leaves and the delphiniums are all shooting up like crazy. Janice and I are getting back to work after a five week trip which included the west coast of the USA, Canada and Europe, visiting clients who buy our seed, viewing the delphinium seedling trials at RHS Wisley, England and attending the wedding of a good friend in Montbrisson, France.

Amidst all the work we have returned to, Janice has convinced me that email newsgroups have now been superseded by blogs and that I should be offering discussion and answering grower questions in this medium now. This is the start. But first some bio:

In 1999, after growing cut flowers and plants for 20 years or so, Janice and I left our nursery in Tuakau, a small provincial town in New Zealand and came to Wanganui (still in the North Island of New Zealand, but further south) to see if we could exist solely by breeding delphiniums and producing seeds for sale on the world market.

The climate in Wanganui is extremely temperate and offers almost year round growing conditions. Delphinium plants have only a few weeks dormancy here (like 2 or three). The move has been very successful and we now have a well established delphinium seed business selling our high quality New Millennium Delphinium varieties to many of the best perennial plant suppliers and seed companies in the world, and also directly to gardeners everywhere. We have 2 permanent staff and this climbs to about 10 in the pollinating season (Dec to May) when we hand pollinate our delphiniums - very time consuming.

Janice and I have been fortunate to be able to establish a business that we both enjoy while being able to also enjoy family life and friendly people around the world - and still pursue our various hobbies too. Janice is a quilter, loves computers (yeah, weird!) and has her own, well established blog. I'm heavily involved in a relaxed and friendly, local Rotary club (yeah, weird too!), love playing the guitar, writing, gardening, travel and people. This blog will touch on all these things and no doubt more. Right now we are making plans for a new growing house that should be completed by the end of December, extending the house a little and producing our delphiniums. The Rotary club is producing a "Last Night of the Proms" concert in aid of "Women's Refuge Wanganui" which will raise around $10,000 to help women and families escape, or turn around, violent relationships. The concert is on September 15th and will be attended by the British High Commissioner to New Zealand.

We have a full life and love it.