Many people who go on garden safaris are no doubt expecting, or at least hoping, to see the spectacular achievements of the truly green-fingered fraternity, albeit often the result of many years of hard labour. And those who went on last weekend's Kaitaia Riding for the Disabled safari at Doubtless Bay would not have been disappointed.
Gardens large and small, and even a commercial olive plantation, were on display, many visitors no doubt heading home with all sorts of ideas to work on, and renewed determination to try harder.
It is also true, however, that success in terms of gardening does not always come quickly or easily. Janet Sole could testify to that.
The sloping garden at the front of her and husband Peter's property in Coachmans Way, Cooper's Beach, attracted many an admirer, but the piece de resistance, in Janet's view, was to be found in a shade house at the other end of the section. The spectacularly colourful hanging cactus, in fill bloom, had taken some coaxing, she said, but, after three or four patient years, she had finally "got it going."
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A Christmas cactus, similarly bright, was at least second in her affections, perhaps first equal.
Bromeliads, succulents and more cacti, including some 40-year-old specimens in pots, were among the major features of Janet's garden, which she began establishing about eight years ago, shortly after she and Peter moved to Doubtless Bay from Kaimaumau.
A few doors along Coachmans Way was Zinnia Sparksman and Stu Pedersen's semi-tropical garden, again featuring bromeliads, including perhaps the largest Alcanthera Emperialis Rubra that most visitors had ever seen, along with hibiscus, orchids and ferns. They also offered further evidence that some folk at Doubtless Bay are very good at growing vegetables.
The safari guide suggested that visitors might take time to sit in Annette and Greg Stanford's secluded little oasis on Wrathall Rd, Mangonui, and listen to the bird song. The sound track might not have been especially raucous on Saturday morning, but Margaret Bridgeford took that advice, while she waited for her husband Wallace, who she had given a ticket for the safari as a gift for a significant birthday, who was deep in conversation on the subject of growing roses.
On one side of their garden Annette and Greg have a spectacular view out over Cooper's Beach and Doubtless Bay, and a small olive grove, on the other the aforementioned secluded area with flowering trees, shrubs, palms, cycads and a pond.
Stonework and garden ornaments, and the stone walls Greg built at the entrance to the property, added further interest.
It isn't yet known how many people supported this year's safari, but the Saturday bus from Kaitaia was well patronised, several dozen passengers being ferried from garden to garden, and descending on the headquarters, at the St John Hall in Cooper's Beach, for their morning and afternoon teas.