Mighty rhodo named for Sir Ed

JILL GALLOWAY
Last updated 11:59 21/09/2012
heritage02
WARWICK SMITH/FAIRFAX NZ
NEW BLOOM: "Sir Edmund Hillary', a new rhodendron.

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Heritage Park Rhododendron Garden and Cross Hills Nursery are joining forces to host the national launch of a ‘Sir Edmund Hillary' rhododendron.

It is a big red rhododendron, bred from seed sent in the 1970s by the Queen of Nepal to New Zealand.

Heritage Trust Park committee member Sue Wagstaff said the project was suggested shortly after Sir Edmund's death and the park wanted a living memorial.

After seeking Lady Hillary's permission, a suitable rhododendron was found with a Nepalese connection, she said.

The seedlings were sent all over the country.

Heritage Park garden covers 4 hectares and is at Kimbolton in northern Manawatu.

It is about 300 metres above sea level, and does not get many of the disease and insect problems gardens at a lower altitude can be cursed with, according to committee member Jim Howard.

But it did get frosts, which could damage flowers and foliage, Howard said. The biggest pests in the Kimbolton gardens were rabbits, on which they waged war constantly.

"There are mainly rhododendrons here, but there are underplantings, and some big deciduous trees as well. We have giant lilies, primulas, some autumn colouring trees, and conifers, to name just a few."

There are a series of lakes and kowhai trees and shrubs.

Howard said it would be great if more people came in autumn to see the "wonderful" colours.

"It is a cold climate, with a cold winter. We can get snow. It's only half an hour from Palmerston North, but we have a very different climate to the city and Feilding."

He said the end of October was usually the peak of the rhododendron flowering period, but there were trees and shrubs which flowered earlier, and some later.

The garden is open all year. During the flowering season, September to mid-December, the chalet is open and volunteers welcome visitors.

Lady Hillary is to launch the rhododendron ‘Sir Edmund Hillary'. The function will start on October 5 with a lunch at Heritage Park for trust members, followed by a planting of ‘Sir Edmund Hillary' in the park. Planting a commemorative rhododendron will be repeated at Kimbolton School.

Residents will have a chance to meet Lady Hillary at dinner at Hansen's Cafe in Kimbolton. She will tour Cross Hills Garden, near Feilding, the next day.

Tickets are available at Feilding Information Centre, Cross Hills and online at a-c-wilson@hotmail.com.

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- Manawatu Standard

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