Whangarei RDA volunteers finalists for NZ Gardener(s) of the Year

Please vote now – Voting closes on Thursday 1 November

A group of RDA volunteers could become this year’s NZ Gardener(s) of the Year. But to do that,
Bev Philpott and her team of RDA plant sale volunteers need your help (and your vote).
Please go to https://t.comms.stuff.co.nz/webApp/PAPP2896 and cast your vote.

It's one vote per person. So everything depends on your vote (and on as many other people's votes as you can help muster). Let's help Bev and her fantastic team win this thing! Please vote now.

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Whangarei RDA volunteers finalists for 
NZ Gardener(s) of the Year

Whangarei RDA plant sale vols Nov 19

A group of volunteers who started a plant stall to raise money for Whangarei Riding for the Disabled are finalists in NZ Gardener's 2018 Gardener of the Year award.

Stall founder Bev Philpott (pictured above, third from the left) has volunteered at Whangarei RDA for years. She's seen first-hand the difference riding therapy makes in the lives of people with a disability.

"When you're working in the riding arena with children and adults, you see very quickly how RDA therapy transforms their lives," she says. 

When a knee injury meant Bev could no longer help with the riding therapy and the horses, she still wanted to support RDA "because I know that it works."

Like NZRDA and all of our affiliated RDA venues, Whangarei RDA relies greatly on donations, grants and sponsorship, and staff and volunteers are always keen to think of a new way to raise extra funds. In 2015 it was suggested there might be a bit of money to be made raising and selling plants, and Bev put her hand up to co-ordinate a plant stall.

To begin with, Bev worked by herself. But she was soon joined by fellow volunteer Rosemary Pegler. Rosemary, who has a background in the nursery trade, suggested she recruit home propagators to produce more plants for sale. 

Bev now works with around 12 other volunteers who either propagate at home, or work together at the on-site Whangarei RDA nursery to grow plants for the stall (which is open Monday until Thursday in term time between 9am and 3pm). 

What's on sale can be eclectic, Bev admits, since the stock is cuttings or divisions taken from what volunteers have in their own gardens (or the gardens of amenable friends or family). But there's usually perennials, subtropicals, ferns, palms, succulents, bromeliads and aquatic plants. And since many of the RDA team are also keen gardeners, there are often plants that are hard or even impossible to buy from a commercial nursery. 

Bev doesn't know exactly how many plants they've grown over the years. But she says around 4000 nursery labels are donated annually "and we always run out". So far the stall has raised more than $17,000 which goes to help reach more RDA riders and change more lives. 

The Whangarei RDA plant sale volunteers are one of five finalists in NZ Gardener magazine's annual award to celebrate people who use their gardening skills to enrich their communities. 

The overall winner, decided by public vote, will receive Kiwicare and Tui product worth $3,000, and a LawnMaster lawn mower.

 

Published in NZ Gardener October 2018
Text: Jo McCarroll
Photo: Kerry Marinkovich