50th Rhododendron Day

Plans are almost finalised for a programme to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Dunedin’s annual Rhododendron Day.

Friends president Sue Lambie
Friends president Sue Lambie
Run by Friends of the Dunedin Botanic Garden, the usual plant sale would be held on Sunday, October 17. It would conclude four days of events celebrating the golden jubilee.

Friends president Sue Lambie said the opening event would be a cocktail evening on Thursday, October 14, with an auction of plants and other donated goods.

On the Friday morning, the focus would be on gardens in Blueskin Bay, including Rangi Marie, the Sumpter family garden with its century-old rhododendrons. Other gardens that featured rhododendron would also be open that day in the Waitati area.

The subject of this year’s David Tannock Memorial Lecture is entitled ‘‘The Rhododendron Dell, A Tour Through Time’’. DBG rhododendron curator Doug Thomson will trace the origins of the Rhododendron Dell, its development over the years and more recent role in helping conserve threatened species.

Also on the Friday, there would be the option of a plein air session in the Upper Garden under the tutelage of artist Anneliese Douglas or touring Olveston’s gardens and house, and a high tea in the house.

A second art in the garden workshop will be held on Saturday, October 15. That day, guided tours of Tannock Glen, Glenfalloch and Larnach Castle would be offered, as well as a floral art demonstration.

Properties in the Dunedin Open Gardens scheme will be open throughout the weekend.

Dunedin had a long history of rhododendron breeding, starting with Fairfield nurseryman William Martin, who bred New Zealand’s first registered rhododendron, Marquis of Lothian, in about 1880, Mrs Lambie said.

She hoped that over the weekend displays would be mounted about Martin and other Dunedin rhododendron breeders.

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