Monday, 25 November 2013

South Island

My South Island adventures are well and truly underway. There was a slight hiccup as I was supposed to be in and around the Christchurch area for some time, however for one reason or another that section had to be cancelled. Don't worry because what I did to replace my Christchurch time has been fascinating and it's taught me a lot. So here goes....

Alexandra - Central Otago

I headed over to see a rose enthusiast, collector and all round lovely guy called Murray at his property a short drive from Alexandra. I have no problem saying that this man was a complete inspiration and one the most knowledgeable rose enthusiast I've ever had the pleasure to come across. The 10 acres of rocky hillside that Murray lives on is covered in Heritage Roses, and I don't meant "quite a few around the house" - very nearly the entire site is planted with old roses. It was a sight to behold! It hasn't been planted as a traditional garden because the terrain doesn't allow for that, it has an enormous collection of many thousands planted out in their family groups, not in beds but just planted between the rocks over a vast area. This fantastic collection contained many varieties I had never heard of and a lot that I had only ever read about and Murray knew where every single one was, the names (as often there was no label), and the history behind it.

He is involved very heavily with the New Zealand Heritage Rose Register, which aims to locate, identify, register and propagate all the old roses growing in this country. They are also looking through old nursery catalogs and original shipping documents from the early settlers to establish exactly which varieties have come over here. Murray's "aim", if you want to call it that, is to grow one of each variety that has ever been available in New Zealand. Not for a personal agenda, but for the good of the whole country so that these roses will never again become 'lost' and so that people can enjoy them for generations to come. Budwood is provided to rose nurseries and the new plants each year are given to public parks and garden so that they really can be enjoyed by all.

I think that everybody involved with the register should be extremely proud if themselves for selflessly dedicating so much to this great cause!

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