This morning, I was pleasantly surprised to receive the following lovely comment from Sam on my blog:
I love your blog! Came across this post and I have a few very subjective article ideas. I'll be moving to Auckland in a couple of months and lucky for me, our new garden is of a very decent size. I would love to know what fruit trees, veges, flowers are best adapted to the Auckland weather. For instance do apple trees do okay? Peaches, plums, pears? What about peonies?
I'll be on the lookout. Cheers!
You're doing a great job with your blog :)
Thank you for your kind words. First of all, I’d like to give you a warm welcome to Auckland! How exciting that you’ll be moving here and what fantastic news that you’ll have a decent sized garden. You’re very lucky. Sections are getting smaller and smaller these days, leaving homeowners with less space for a garden.
I thought this would make a good subject for a blog post as it’s something that I should be an expert on, having developed an urban homestead at our property in Auckland over the past six years. Set out below are some of my thoughts on what can be grown successfully in Auckland’s conditions, in response to your questions.
Apple trees will be fine in Auckland. Stonefruit such as peaches and plums as well as pears should all be fine for planting in Auckland. Now is the perfect time to plant deciduous fruit trees and they are available at garden centres at the moment. Check whether you require a pollinator in order to get fruit. Some trees are double or triple grafted, meaning that you only need to plant one tree to get fruit. You’ll probably find you struggle with growing apricots though, as they need very cold weather during winter in order to form fruit.
If you’re interested in growing blueberries, stick with “Rabbiteye” varieties, which need fewer chilling hours in order to form fruit. For best results, plant at least two different varieties so they can cross-pollinate with each other.
The easiest way to find varieties which are best suited to Auckland’s conditions is to visit an Auckland-based garden centre such as Kings Plant Barn. All of the varieties of fruit trees they stock will be suitable for growing in the Auckland region. Places like Mitre 10 and Bunnings may be misleading as stock is ordered for all of the stores throughout the country and some varieties may not be suited to the region you are in.
I’m afraid it is not possible to grow peonies in Auckland, or anywhere else in the upper North Island for that matter, much to my disappointment. In order to flower, peonies need to have single digit temperatures on the ground above the tuber for around 80 days in winter, which Auckland does not have. I have verified whether it is possible to grow peonies in Auckland with some leading peony retailers in New Zealand, and they have all confirmed that it simply can’t be done. I’m sorry that this is probably not what you wanted to hear, but I always tell it exactly like it is!
Although it’s sometimes hard for me to believe, especially now when we’re in the middle of winter, Auckland’s climate is technically sub-tropical. We have a number of sub-tropical plants in our garden, including:
The only veggie that I haven’t managed to grow successfully in Auckland are swedes. They need very cool weather in winter in order to form a decent size. Otherwise, I think you’ll find that you’re able to grow most veggies in Auckland, including heat-loving and ethnic veggies if you are so inclined.
From October onwards, I’ll be selling a range of veggie, flower and herb seedlings in the little nursery that I run from home. All of these varieties are suitable for growing in Auckland. If you have moved here by then, you’re most welcome to make an appointment and come by to get what you need for your garden.
Like a lot of people (even outside Auckland), I’m really struggling with growing garlic due to a new, aggressive strain of rust. This isn’t helped by our cool, continually wet weather in winter. I have had to spray it, which I’m not exactly thrilled with but the reality is that it has become necessary in our conditions. It’s too soon to say whether the sprays I have been using will actually prevent the onset of rust successfully. Keep an eye out for updates in my blog.
In addition to peonies, you might struggle to grow some spring bulbs in Auckland, such as fritillaria and snow drops, which also require very cold weather in order to flower. You might also struggle to grow decent hyacinth and tulips because they do need a very cold winter to flourish. However, you can get around this by pre-chilling them in the fridge for around six weeks prior to planting. This is what the Eden Garden in Epsom does and they put on a splendid display of tulips at their festival every year. I wouldn’t recommend planting hyacinths and tulips until the end of May, when the weather is cooler. I also find I have better luck planting anemones around this time too, and corms also benefit from a period of chilling in the fridge (and a soaking beforehand).
These are my preliminary thoughts. I hope this has given you something to work with. If I have any further thoughts I’ll write another blog post later on. Please don’t forget I write a free weekly gardening newsletter filled with advice and tips about what to do around the garden. All of my newsletters can be found at the following location on my website: https://www.anitakundu.co.nz/newsletters.html. If you wish to receive my newsletter direct to your inbox every week, please send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and write “subscribe” in the subject field.
In the meantime, if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask me. I don’t pretend I know everything (I definitely don’t!) but I’m happy to help in any way I can.
All the best,