Flower power takes centre stage

JOHN ANTHONY
Last updated 05:00 02/02/2013
Catherine McKay
Finishing touch: New Plymouth Horticultural Society president Catherine McKay cleans a giant dahlia flower with a clean paintbrush in preparation for this weekend’s Gardeners’ Summer Festival 2013.

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The smells of summer will be wafting from the Pukekura Raceway function centre this weekend when some of New Plymouth's best flowers go on display.

Today and tomorrow hundreds of spectacular flowers will be scrutinised by judges in the New Plymouth Horticultural Society Gardeners' Summer Festival 2013.

Society president Catherine McKay said the event was a highlight on the calendar of many flower growers.

The show attracted 34 exhibitors who will enter up to 700 displays in more than 300 classes.

Everything from petunias to potatoes to preserves will be judged over the next two days.

About 300 spectators were expected to attend, she said.

Miss McKay, a specialist dahlia flower grower, said she learnt a lot of flower show tricks off her late mother.

"Our mother always had us alongside her when she was staging her flowers," Miss McKay said.

The community caregiver said she worked on her dahlias for a few hours every day.

"It's a great form of relaxation."

In preparation for the show she uses a clean soft bristle paintbrush to flick any dust or dirt off the flower's petals.

One of the biggest risks to flowers in the garden was earwigs, she said. "Earwigs are a terrible battle in the garden - probably the worst thing." White butterflies were also an unwanted visitor.

There was plenty of socialising and a healthy camaraderie among competitors in flower shows, she said. But Miss McKay said she was saving her best flowers at home for the National Dahlia Show in Levin next week.

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