Our neck of the rural woods is heading for a garden and house tour early next year that will showcase some stunning properties for a good cause.
The Dahlias for Dementia House and Garden Tour 2020 is raising funds for a new dementia unit in Maungatūroto that will serve the wider area.
The tour will feature properties from Maungatūroto to beyond Matakohe and planning is now well past the toddling stage even though the tour isn't till late February. That's dahlia season, hence the name.
In fact, tour planning is up and running with sponsors on board and gifts donated for raffles and spot prizes.
I'm qualified to say all this, especially the bit about the stunning properties, because I got hooked on to the organising team which has recently visited the participating gardens and homes and their generous owners.
This was such an honour and was thrilling for all of us.
Another cause for delight for me is that our house isn't part of the game. There are many reasons, but a big one is that I'm no gardener.
This has hit with new clarity as I've listened to gardeners discussing their work on their precious patches ahead of the big weekend. As well as weeding and tidying, which I have a solid handle on – too solid - they're digging deep into aspects of summer planting that are galaxies outside my skill set.
In 2010, when our place was in the Otamatea High School fundraising house tour, our prep was all about doing such things as cleaning our 353 panes of glass. Students helped.
The house's appeal is all about its special spot beside the Otamatea River and that it's a historic two-storey villa that was once a boarding house. It set down roots more than 150 years ago and grew in three stages, the last in 1905.
That tour may well have been the first time all the panes were clean at the same time – and the first time there was glass in all the frames. After a century plus, it's quite reasonable for some of the gunk that holds the glass windows in place to get so tired it gives up.
Plus we're miles out of town and there are many fabulous homes and gardens in the area.
Anyway, oodles of people have been through the house, including Probus groups from far and wide and 120 people from North Shore retirement villages over three consecutive days. One woman fell in the garden; there was blood.
Every place on the Dahlias for Dementia tour is different and has its own special magic. Some spring the most unlikely surprises.
Several exhibitors have set to work in empty paddocks and created remarkable gardens. Others lovingly tend land and homes that are rich with history and too many stories to remember.
There are 20 tour properties and eight will have open homes as well. Some are all about history and interior design that's simpatico with all that's gone before while other, more modern homes, are equally pleasing.
I'm picking that everyone will find a house that makes the ticket cost worthwhile – that makes the other 19 free.
The home in the high school tour that many people we knew most wanted to live in is showing off its style once again.
And as this is a rural tour, you'll often venture along gleaming limestone farm roads and through paddocks while marvelling at the views along the way.
• Tickets will soon be on sale on the website of Alzheimers Northland, which has been extraordinarily generous to our Dahlias for Dementia team.