Great agenda for Kaimarama Garden Circle
Sixty years ago, just outside of Whitianga,a group of young farmer’s wives got together to get out of the house and off the farm on a regular basis. They decided to meet once a month and rotate around one another’s homes. It was a way of meeting people and seeing someone else’s home and garden. They started off meeting at 1.00pm but that got changed to 11.30am. All the women took a plate for their shared lunch. The agenda was - talk about your own garden and listen to others talk about theirs. It must work well because they have been doing so since 1963 - the Kaimarama Garden Circle is still meeting and has full attendance.
This was told to The Informer by the current Secretary, Christine Whibley, who says, “I’m relatively new, just been here two to three years. We have to cap our membership at 25 because our lounge rooms just won’t hold any more. Everyone, as I said before, shares news about their garden - what’s working and what’s not. Some bring a recipe of something they have cooked, using veges and fruit growing in their garden.”
Some of the older members are still on their big rural farms and have considerable vegetable production. Members also prepare a floral arrangement from what is growing in their garden and members vote on which one they like best. “We have cards with numbers for the voting and whoever gets the most votes wins.” Kaimarama Garden Circle like competitions and voting. “It’s such fun,” says Christine. “We also have a competition for the best head, which is a multitude of blossoms on the one stem, and there’s a competition for the best single flower - could be a fuchsia or a dahlia. These always lead to more discussions about varieties, specimens and there are always suggestions if someone has a problem with any aspect. The other part of our meeting is bringing along a plant for exchange and this way we keep growing our garden and learning new things. In the beginning, the young wives had no funds to buy plants but by swapping plants and caring about the other person’s garden, we really grew as friends. The sharing of knowledge and eating together has been a significant part of the longevity of the Garden Circle.” says Christine.
“But really, I want people to know about Kay McLeod, the original foundation member of our Garden Circle. She has a wonderful wealth of knowledge and so much data stored in her memory. She has kept a rainfall record for the whole 60 years and she remembers the details. I have always enjoyed gardening, but she has raised the level of my enjoyment with her knowledge and the way she is always ready to help me and the younger ones.”