Cambs/Beds Hardy Plant Society

PUBLISHED: 15:44 19 January 2006 | UPDATED: 09:30 06 May 2010

Had a very good start to the year with about two-thirds of its membership turning out on a dreary day to hear Roger and Penny Gray describe their holiday in January 2005 to New Zealand and Australia. Roger is fully equipped for digital photography which m

Had a very good start to the year with about two-thirds of its membership turning out on a dreary day to hear Roger and Penny Gray describe their holiday in January 2005 to New Zealand and Australia. Roger is fully equipped for digital photography which meant there were some superb slides to be shown. In some ways, New Zealand appears to have the perfect climate in which to grow plants, so much so that some of the varieties which we grow here have become invasive weeds there. For example, agapanthus sometimes shy to flower here appears everywhere there and it is illegal to let them seed. There are hundreds of varieties of ferns and you can imagine how tall the eucalyptus will grow. The climate must be good for people as well, because at one bed and breakfast they stayed in, the seventyish owners had taken 10 acres of bush on five years ago and had created a beautiful garden from it. It would seem that everything is on a grand scale with only four million people to 16 million sheep and 40 million possums, who are an introduced species and now the government is trying to cull them as they cause immense damage to birds and trees. This wonderful country has everything from an earthquake every day (North and South Islands lie on the Pacific plate) to hot pools and geysers. There are immense waterfalls and mountain ranges. Curiously most flowers are white and yellow and this is probably because the plants are pollinated by the 1,700 sorts of moth, which of course do their work by night. At the Franz Josef Glacier, another striking work of nature, there are nineteen different varieties of gentians, all of which have white flowers. The SW of New Zealand has huge quantities of rain, although Roger and Penny managed to take a helicopter ride, albeit the landing had to be around a corner because of the wind. It was interesting that at Milford Sound, where plant rubbish tumbles down the glacier, trees will eventually take root and grow. There is so much wood in this country that it is used for all sorts of purposes and there are boardwalks everywhere to allow visitors to get to close quarters with nature. Botanic gardens occurred quite often and were always visited. The holiday ended with a brief stay in Australia, another captivating country. This was the most interesting afternoon which probably ended with many members counting their pennies to see how soon they could afford a trip to the other side of the world. The meeting was upset to learn of the untimely death of Jane Sterndale-Bennett, a past chairman of the national society and a tireless worker for the HPS. The next meeting will be on Saturday, February 4 at 2pm at the Weatherley Centre, Biggleswade when John McCormack will be talking about discovering digital photography, visitors are welcome, entrance £2.

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