Real-time- A Bloomin' Interlude
Before our next beach stop we had a special place to see just south of Waipukurau. And, as promised by the forecasters, the weather was fast deteriorating when we arrived at Taniwha Daffodils. Although it made an interesting and dramatic backdrop for my photos and in the end, the rain didn't arrive while we were there. (Click on the photos to enlarge)
Taniwha, owned by the Mabins', is a working farm with a 100 year old homestead and 20 acres of trees, ponds and beautiful daffodils in the 'house paddock'.
Instead of baking cakes for Plunket fundraisers, Railene Mabin started selling daffodils. Today, 40 years later, all proceeds still go to Plunket.
Taniwha Daffodils is open for the month of September this year, to coincide with the blooming of the daffodils, and every day, many visitors arrive to see the stunning display of flowers.
Blue plastic buckets are supplied and you're let loose in the flower beds to go wherever the fancy takes you, and to take as long as you like. At $5 per 30 stems, you can pick as many flowers as you want. I found the temptation to pick more than my quota hard to ignore, I think if I didn't have a mobile home I'd have picked enough to have a bunch in every room of the house. And if I lived nearby, I'd have returned many times over the month. Sadly, I only had room for one bunch of sunshine.
When you've finished picking the blooms, they are wrapped in cellophane back at the shed. Be warned though, lo'behold if you've picked any buds- they'll cost you $1 a stem. The buds are probably picked by the Mabins for sale elsewhere and also, buds provide the flowers for the next week or so and if everyone picked them they'd be no blooms to see....or in Taniwha's case, a little less blooms to see.
I'd called ahead to check if we would be able to park with the 5th-wheeler on the back, of course I'd overlooked the fact that tour buses would probably be visiting the flowers too. It wasn't an issue although we'd been advised not to leave the gravel. As if we would. Imagine that, deep muddy ruts around the flower beds!
Over the past 25 years, since the garden has been opened to the public, Railene has planted many hundreds of different varieties of daffodils and has taken over more and more of the house paddock.
Wide grassy pathways sweep and curve around and through the flowerbeds forming lovely patterns.
I started exploring out towards the highway (above), what a beautiful sight the mass drift of daffodils must be to drivers passing by on SH2. Then I made my way past the homestead...
And along the pond behind the house, where I found...
...a Mute Swan (after finally finding my first one near Kaikoura a few months ago, this is my 3rd or 4th sighting in just a few short months!) Postering and raising his wings at me several times, he still wanted to follow me right around the pond wall. His mate was down the far end of the pond going about her business. It's a little disconcerting when, unlike their black cousins, they don't hiss a warning. You're unsure if they just like you or they're trying to get you out of their territory.
Mute swans weren't the only inhabitants of the large pond.
Daffodils as far as the eye can see.
Even though people arriving were being directed to the rear of the paddock to pick their blooms, I had the place to myself. I guess the front flowerbeds would have had a good working over with people not walking too far from the carpark to pick their flowers. But, to be fair, there were so many flowers it was hard to see where people had been anywhere through the garden.
I found a lovely bridge at the far end of the pond, a little boat house and not too many daffodils.
I slowly made my way back towards the van, criss-crossing over the small stream that flows through the property.
We visited Taniwha mid September and there were still plenty of varieties yet to flower or just starting to bloom.
Railene Mabin also picks hundreds of bunches of flowers every morning before the gates are opened, these are sold elsewhere for Plunket. In over 25 years, $250,000 has been raised for the organisation. What an incredible contribution one family has made to a New Zealand institution close to many hearts.
If I lived nearby I'd offer to help out with the picking, I'd love to work in amongst this lot. It would be a surprise every morning seeing what new varieties had bloomed and watching others burst into life.
I'm sure the garden trees look lovely over summer and autumn but at this time of the year it's great that they don't steal the limelight or overshadow the daffodils. They do make interesting natural sculptures though, and on this day, perfect reflections in the ponds.
It was a bit hard to capture the flowers in-situ as they mostly had their heads pointing towards the ground. So I picked as many different daffodils as I could find on my way back to the van and then I had my 'assistant' hold each stem (these are just a few of the different varieties). That centre flower was my favourite. Who knew there were so many varieties.
A school bus with kindergarten age children and their parents had arrived at Taniwha just before we did. After they'd walked through the gardens and had lunch at the picnic tables, the children then had a lot of fun playing tag along the pathways between the beds.
In their excitement a few kids forgot the rule about not running through the flowers. They even forgot who the parents were, I got tagged a couple of times while I was taking photos!
I loved this particular section of the garden, where borders of snowdrops encircled the daffodils and a flowering cherry tree was placed in the centre of a few of the gardens. A fragrant spring perfume also filled the air.
Taniwha Daffodils celebrates the flowering season with 'Dawn in the Daffodils', an early breakfast & sunrise event on the weekend they open. And a 'Dusk in the Daffodils' evening picnic, live music & light display event, which was being held later on the day we were there. Hopefully the rain stayed away long enough for them to enjoy it all.
I took one last photo of the daffodils in front of the homestead and found a little girl not wanting to leave her new playground. She lay down behind the flowers when she saw her mum coming to get her. Imagine trying to find this tiny 'dot' amongst the blooms.
I carried on up the driveway as David pulled out...
...so I could get a photo of us at the entrance gate. What a beautiful property and such a generous family.