South Island dahlia show ready to go

Otatara grower Judy Laurie often wins major awards in the open section of the South Island National Dahlia Show. Photo: Supplied

MORE than 1000 dahlias are expected to be on show at the South Island National Dahlia Show at the Southland Indoor Bowls Centre in Onslow St, Invercargill, this weekend.

It was anticipated the show would feature 500-600 vases of dahlias which equated to more than 1000 blooms, which the public could view for a gold coin entry on Saturday, noon-5pm, and Sunday, 9am-4pm.

Also celebrating the 40th anniversary of the Southland Dahlia Circle at the show, many Southland exhibitors had consistently taken out top awards throughout the past four decades at South Island nationals, with the hope they would do so again this weekend.

Southland growers were ready for the first national dahlia show on home soil since 1985, with competitors arriving from as far away as Nelson and Blenheim.

In the open section, Otatara grower Judy Laurie often won major awards.

She credited Southland Dahlia Circle mainstays Walter and Kit Jack for contributing to her successes.

“We all benefit from their knowledge.

“It’s wonderful, it is why we all do so well. They bend over backwards to pass on what they know.

Mrs Laurie said this growing season had been challenging with some terrible weather at times hampering preparation for the show.

Steve and Christine Langley, of Myross Bush, also had their share of success throughout the years, but Mrs Langley said 10 or 12 years we are always learning

“You never stop learning. We enjoy showing, everyone is so helpful.

“If you have a problem, people will tell you what they know, there are no secrets.

“After our first show we were really hooked, the camaraderie is great.

“We can be really competitive, but still have a good time with the other people.”

Like so many others, it was Walter and Kit Jack, who the Langleys met through indoor bowls, who coaxed them into having a go.

“We were just garden growers. Walter told us we had done well initially and that our flowers were good but over the next few years we would need exhibition flowers.

“We got rid of all our existing flowers except the Pooh variety which was a favourite of our son.”

Anne Brown, of Fairfax, got involved through a friend.

“I went along and helped with a show. She wanted help and suggested I put in a flower.

“That was about 16 years ago and I am still here. I enjoy it.

“There are good people in the circle and they help with any questions.”

While she had won ribbons and trophies, the highlight for Brown was meeting different people.

“I’m looking forward to the nationals, but this year the weather has not been conducive but what will be will be,” she said.

Her husband Colin came along as he too enjoyed the people side of it all, but “he doesn’t help with the flowers”.

Intermediate exhibitors Mairi and Geoff Revitt fit a busy schedule around their exhibiting.

“The changeable weather has been a problem with the wind causing a lot of broken plants,” Mr Revitt said.

The Revitts said it was not too hard staking and pruning plants but when it came to exhibiting, it was a challenge to get ready due to their work commitments.

While many credited the Jacks for their influence, the couple were extremely modest about their own achievements, with Mr Jack merely saying they are the weekend

The weekend would also feature some easy-to-enter special classes for the home gardener with some great prizes to be won.

There would also be a good number of garden-related stalls including Hostas from Timaru.

  • Entry to the show was a gold coin donation, with free admission for children.