Maple Glen gets Maggie's soil of approval

HANNAH MCLEOD
Last updated 05:00 14/08/2014
National MP and gardening expert Maggie Barry

FLOWER POWER: National MP and gardening expert Maggie Barry speaks to the crowd at Nichol’s Garden Centre.

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National MP and gardening stalwart Maggie Barry says Maple Glen Gardens, near Wyndham, is one of New Zealand's top three gardens.

Barry, who graced New Zealand's television screens in the 1990s in Maggie's Gardening Show, visited the gardens yesterday before giving a talk at Nichol's Garden Centre in Invercargill.

"In my personal opinion it's one of the best gardens in the South Island [and one of the] top three in New Zealand," she said.

Speaking to about 30 people at the centre, Barry said Southland had experienced a mild winter.

Daffodils were flowering early, and Snowdrops were just about finished for the season, she said.

"The hail will be doing the tulips good, triggering some flowering."

Barry was there with retiring Invercargill MP Eric Roy and National Party Invercargill candidate Sarah Dowie.

Barry used gardening stories to explain her life in politics, with just one or two barbs aimed at opposition parties.

She was sick of the Green Party "demonising the dairy farmers," and Winston Peters did not know much about conservation, she said.

MAGGIE'S TIPS FOR SPRING GARDENING IN THE SOUTH

Most importantly, "bide your time." With seasons changing, gardeners need to be careful about being too early with their planting. Be patient and "strike when it gets warm." Mulch, mulch, mulch, mulch, mulch. It will help stop weeds getting through. "You can't beat your own homemade compost," she said. Use manure on top of your mulch. Maggie's recipe for a great liquid manure: Mix 3 or 4 cowpats in a bucket of water. Be sure to let any manure you are using break down first, because in its raw state manure often carries seeds which become weeds. Use plants as a ground cover to help prevent weeds – Maggie loves star jasmine. "Anchor [the vine] with a broken toothpick ..." to help direct where you want it to grow. Growing small tomato vines along the ground is an option often forgotten too. 

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