South Otago Fuchsia Group – National Link May 2018


Immediately on arriving home from Ashburton there was an invitation to go to and visit our local beekeeper’s shed to see the extraction of the new season’s honey. In the shed were the various machines that dealt with each necessary process – lift out the trays, remove the wax. The trays are stacked in something like a washing machine and the honey is spun out, flowing on to several holdings. In a closed shed the temperature was very warm. The honey was delicious, the best crop he has had for some years resulting from a hot dry summer. The bees are so important for so much of our food supply but they also enjoy our fuchsia flowers.

Those who attended – what did the Ashburton Fuchsiarama do for you?

South Otago members travelled up by car, leaving the hills and valleys and changing landscapes of North Otago to the very flat Canterbury Plains and Ashburton. I find it amazing with the huge flat areas and the mountains away in the distance. Our hosts, Ashburton, provided many opportunities to discover at least some of the things that make this part of the country tick over and, by touring around by bus, we did just that.     ·

Our first visit on tour was to Brian, the Chook Man, with his 3 acres of trees, surrounding flowers, fruit and endless growing things. This all gave him so much pleasure. I shall look out for him next time at the Milton Poultry Show in the south . His feathered chooks could well be the champions there.

We next arrived at a huge building and within it a business restoring classic Bentley motor cars – Wow! The management didn’t offer a ride in one of their best but I am sure I would have enjoyed trying it out on one of those long straight roads out from Ashburton.

Travelling on, the wide open fields rolled by, with many black cows showing up on some and sheep to a lesser degree. We arrived finally at the township of Geraldine, once a quiet little town but, over the years, becoming a very busy tourist through route. It has been known for a long time for its industry Barkers, makers of preserves, sauces and jams.

Saturday morning, we came together to deal with Fuchsia Society business and, In the afternoon, we went to visit the historic village with all the memories of yes­ teryear. How like little children, we all scrambled aboard the Steam train for a brief trip up and down the line. as most of us very seldom travel on a train these days. Back in the Village, we explored the many things that remind us of how we used to have to do things.

The end of the afternoon was a drive around the man-made Lake Hood. I visited here some years ago and the building of homes has since greatly expanded. How many families close to the water will live freely with that? If you have a home swimming pool on your section it has to be fenced in for safety reasons.

We had two excellent evenings with films, one showing colourful coverage of fuchsia flowers and the second with a speaker telling us about trips made to the Auckland Islands and Antarctica. Wonderful photography of the wildlife and flora. Being a dreadful sailor, I would never survive the rolling sea in a Russian ship – these photos were as close as I will get.

We missed seeing any of the local members’ fuchsias, being spoilt no doubt in earlier years by being able to visit the wonderful gardens and shade houses of Trevor and Ann Gamblin and Dick and Margaret Bennett. They had gardens of fuchias, hanging baskets growing everywhere. When I won a raffle prize on the Saturday night, I ventured to the table and claim the one and only fuchsia in a pot but no, I couldn’t have that one as it belonged to the hotel!

After all the goodbyes on the final day we discovered for our sins a garden full of fuchsias large and small. We drove over the railway line and a few streets to visit the home of Shirley and Allan Peak, who were once long-time residents of the South Otago area. They are now in Ashburton with an acre of ground, a lovely home and plenty of room for plants. Shirley kept reminding me that at Lawrence School she was in the same class as my son (at that time, I didn’t know that he knew any girls).

I haven’t mentioned that the Saturday night dinner was on 17 March, St Patrick’s day, with the wearing of a “Splash of Green” as our Fuchsiarama theme. Most members wore something green, but I had thought about this as our own fuchsia day and I handcrafted fuchsia flowers with green petals. Peter O’Hara told me I have to trial them for 3 years before registering them with a new name (Laugh!).

Home a week and on Saturday 24 March Otago members came to visit us in Balclutha and a little beyond. Our fuchsia flowers were surviving remarkably well and still good to view. Our visitors’ wish for a country afternoon tea was provided by our members with a lot of laughs.

May you all enjoy these reminders of a happy and busy Fuchsiarama in Ashburton 2018.

Dorothy Coburn