Whangarei Quarry Gardens Winter Newsletter - August 2019



Whangarei Quarry Gardens

Winter Newsletter - August 2019

Kia ora Friends!

After a fairly dry start to winter, we have really hit the wet stuff now. The ground is sodden for many, but the temperatures have remained slightly warm for this time of year. There are plenty of flowers  to enjoy in the Gardens at the moment: the Camellia Collection is in full bloom; the fragrant Michelia's have come out of hiding; enjoy the different shades of Abutilon; Bergenia's, Orchids, Heliconia's, Tibouchina, Clivia and so many more to keep the bees happy, and us!

Thank you to all of the volunteers who have been working hard through these colder winter months. The Gardening crew have been putting in a huge effort with Garden's Manager, Guy Hessell, pulling out plants to make way for new plantings. The Wedding Garden has seen a lot of changes. Paths through the Camellia are now more established,  and we are ready to plant out the bank leading down to the carpark with Magnolias and Maples to bring in layers and colour. The concrete ruins at the old crusher plant have been replanted with Astellia's, Genista and Brachyglottis. Colours to suit the ruins and the work has opened up the view to reveal the ruins to visitors.

THANK YOU to Wally and Jeanette Yovich for the fantastic new Can Am 6 seater that is busy ferrying our gardening crew around. It helps them get all over our large site - meaning they can save energy for the hard work that needs to be done out in the Gardens. They are absolutely loving the new machine.


The Can Am has a tipper deck, making jobs so much easier for the team. Working smarter, not harder! 



The events volunteers have also been working hard, pulling together Sculpture Northland. And it's shaping up beautifully with 50 artists exhibiting this year, and almost 150 sculptures! ! We have 15 new artists joining the exhibition this year, and the calibre of the work is outstanding.


Tickets are now on sale for the Exclusive Preview on Thursday November 7th. It's the first chance to see the exhibition, meet the artists and have the opportunity to buy works. There will be live music, canapes and drinks, making this one of Whangarei's finest evenings - not to be missed. Tickets are strictly limited - $65 each. Email events@whangareigardens.org.nz


We always need extra volunteers to help during our Special Events.  We would love your help over the busy 10 day event. We need "Sculpture Guardians" to be out in the Gardens keeping an eye on the Sculptures, advising visitors to look, but not touch! It's a lovely way to spend half a day and see the exhibition for free. We also need people who can help with parking for half a day. So if you would like to join the team for Sculpture Northland - then please get in touch!

Email Kerry at events@whangareigardens.org.nz  or phone 437 7210

Quail Cafe is closing for a much needed Winter Holiday. Sunday 17th is their last day open, then they re-open on the 3rd September. Our apologies for the inconvenience.

HOT DEALS for Whangarei Quarry Gardens Members!!

  • NEW!! 10% Discount from Alter-Natives Nursery - Plants only
  • Quarry Garden Members receive 50% discounted entry to Sculpture Northland

     (This does not include the Preview Event)

  • Discounted Tickets to Whangarei Garden Discovery

Valid 2019 Membership cards must be presented when purchasing tickets or plants.

Farewell to May Hansen


One of the Whangarei Quarry Gardens original volunteers, May Hansen, sadly passed away this week aged 101. She was voted Northland’sGardener of the year in 2009, and her own garden featured in the Whangarei Discovery.


“May was a star” says a fellow volunteer. “She loved her floral gumboots and the rivulet.” Apparently she enjoyed stomping in the rivulet when heavy rain had it flowing well. She was still volunteering at the Gardens at the golden age of 94 – which was a testament to her strength and spirit.


She was invited to be among the first to tour the Quarry Gardens on the new golf cart on her 99th birthday in 2017 with her daughter Marion, who is also a loyal volunteer at the Gardens. She had much to say about what needed to be done, even then.


Thank you May, for your dedication to Whangarei Quarry Gardens. Our thoughts go to Marion and the rest of May's family at this sad time. 




A Camellia Collection to be proud of


In the year 2001, one of the world’s foremost breeders of scented Camellia’s, Jim Findlay, gifted his collection of Camellias to the Whangarei Quarry Gardens “for the benefit of the community”. After a sojourn at a local nursery while the Quarry Gardens area was prepared for them, the Camellias were planted in 2002. Many have enjoyed these otherwise not seen cultivars as they have grown over the years.


Although labelled with names or breeding detail numbers at the time of planting, many details have become lost as labels disappeared, disintegrated and faded over the intervening years.


This has become an important issue now, as the Garden is working toward becoming an “International Camellia Garden of Excellence”, for which we need 200 named and registered cultivars.


Recently appointed Gardens Manager, Guy Hessell says “What I hope to achieve at the gardens is finishing off a number of projects that have been started. One of those is our Camellia collection. It is one of the largest scented Camellia collections in the Southern Hemisphere. That in itself is unique as most camellias don’t have a scent. The Camellias are currently flowering in the Gardens, so walking amongst them is a real pleasure.”


Senior volunteer, Lorraine Young took on the project of identifying the large Camellia collection, six months ago. Correlating lists and referring to the original planting plan. Derek Beard, Registrar of the NZ Camellia Society, recently travelled North with his wife Jenny, from Mount Maunganui to help Lorraine and Jocelyn Allen, from the Whangarei Camellia Society, with the monumental task. 


Scouring the Gardens for blooms to compare with Jim Findlay’s photo album. They have to date discovered 8 of the 12 known “lost treasures” – beautiful, previously named cultivars. The team have also discovered at least a dozen new Camellia in the Gardens, to be registered and named. Many thanks to Jenny and Derek for travelling up and bringing their extensive knowledge to the Gardens. Thanks also to Jocelyn for her help, and Lorraine for the many hours that have gone into this floral detective work.


Come and enjoy the Camellia now while they are in full bloom. Take in the different scents and the huge variety in the blooms.


Pictured right:

Top Photo: Camellia Takanini

2nd Photo: Derek & Jenny Beard 

3rd photo from left: Jocelyn Allen, Derek & Jenny Beard, Lorraine Young.

Bottom Photo: Camellia 639 

Defibrillator At The Gardens

Last week 13 volunteers and our 2 staff attended a workshop led by St John's, on how to use the newest piece of equipment at the Gardens; a defibrillator. A life saving machine that can make all the difference to someone suffering a heart attack. We hope dearly that we won't have to use our training - but it is fantastic to have this available on site. Special thanks to Wally and Jeanette Yovich for their generous support of the Gardens and helping us provide this valuable kit to our community.


Enjoy a one-hour tour of Whangarei Quarry Gardens from the comfort of an electric golf cart. See the entire Gardens, learn its history & the name of exotic plants from your friendly volunteer driver.  Top it off with a little bit of decadence -  Devonshire Tea at Quail Café.

Available to Gold Card holders & Whangarei Quarry Garden individual members. (We also extend it to their friends & family who come on the tour.)


Golf Cart Tours 2-3 people $30, 4 people $40, 5 people $50    -     Devonshire Tea $10 per person




The Gardens need you!

Our members make all the difference at the Gardens. Every membership helps us fund the further development of our many projects. If you aren't already a member, we invite you to join our group of supporters to keep our community garden project flourishing.

A modest annual fee from our members goes straight back into the gardens through plant purchases and maintenance. Some of our recent projects include:

  • the new saftey rails above the tunnels
  • new plants purchased regularly
  • educational signage
  • plant labels
  • path maintenance after storms
  • upgrading the carpark and entrance area


  • Members can purchase discounted tickets to Sculpture Northland 2019
  • Free entry to the Gardens
  • NEW 10% discount on plants from Alter-Natives Nursery
  • Discounted tickets to Whangarei Garden Discovery


Membership form

“To inspire our community with a landscape of beauty and life”

Whangarei Quarry Gardens Trust

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