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Don and Pat Edhouse with Joan Hazelwood (rear) model the latest Edhouse hats

Don and Pat Edhouse with Joan Hazelwood (rear) model the latest Edhouse hats

Some years ago, a button came off my corduroy jacket. I asked my wife if she had a replacement. No luck. In desperation, I took the jacket to Edhouses, and asked the woman behind the counter if they sold buttons. She took me to the habadashery department. Needless to say there were more buttons than you would believe, and I came away with an exact match. That’s what Edhouses has always been about.

Gossiping with friends, it’s apparent that Edhouses has, over the years been all things to all people. Back in my parents day, you would have gone there for Manchester. To those of us under fifty, Manchester is the term used to describe household linen or cotton goods, such as sheets and towels. But wait, there’s much, much more.

In times gone by, when there were saleyards in Waerenga Road, farmers would come to the stock sales, and their wives would go to Edhouses. The shop was one of the first department stores on the Kapiti coast, selling everything from fabrics to underwear, shoes, overcoats, hats, scarves and any item of clothing you could ever want.

Wiser people than me observed that whoever was the buyer for Edhouses, they had a very good eye. An eye for fashion, an unerring eye for what people wanted, be they dedicated followers of fashion or plain Janes, you could always get what you wanted at Edhouses. And better still, the staff treated you with courtesy, with understanding and sympathy. You would always depart Edhouses with something that you would wear forever, something that you would come to treasure.

But all good things must end.

Back before the war, the main street wasn’t sealed, there was a hitching rail outside Edhouses and in the evenings a lamplighter would light the gas lamps. Most of Edhouses stock was imported. By the 1970s, 80% of Edhouses stock was New Zealand made, the economy was buoyant and Otaki like every small country town had a self-contained economy, with everyone able to buy what they needed without leaving town.

How things have changed. Today over 80% of goods are imported, mostly from China. Levin, once a centre of textile production has lost virtually everything and people buy either online or from mega-stores. Don Edhouse recalls how every town once had large department stores. Today they’re virtually all gone. Now, finally Otaki’s losing its iconic shop that has become a link with times gone by.

Don and Pat are off to a well-deserved retirement, the loyal staff of Edhouses will look back on a wonderful emporium, a great employer, and a shop that we’ll never see the likes of again. Never.


Thank you Edhouses, you made the lives of every person in Otaki a bit special. We’ll miss you.



Anna-Marie de Montravel – the perfect rose for a small garden or a pot

My mother told me that my first school report said “Karen is a dear little girl”. I am not sure what to make of that but I do know Anna-Marie de Montravel can definitely be described as a dear little rose. It was bred in France in 1879 and is variously described as a china or a polyantha and sometimes it is called Anna Maria de Montravel.

The bush only grows to about 60cm in height so is perfect for the front of a border or in a pot. It has clusters of tiny, fully double, globular, white blooms with a sweet fragrance reminiscent of lily-of-the-valley. The dense twiggy growth, with dark green, small leaves look delicate but disguise a tough little rose, with fewer thorns than most roses. Anna-Marie de Montravel is easy to grow and will repeat bloom throughout the season. She also makes a perfect gift.Se_14_TFad

Spring is here, now’s the time to get planting!



Watsons have twenty varieties ready now, from the

relaible Watsons Special to Moneymaker, Heritage and cherry tomatoes.Se_14_Tomatoimages


Red, Green and Yellow bell peppers. Five varietiesSe_14_capsicumimages


Mild and Red Hot peppers of all shapes and sizesF_Se14_hot-chilli-peppers

Spring Annuals

Hundreds of varieties of potted colour ready to brighten up your Spring garden

Hanging Baskets

All the ingredients available now. Brighten up with some instant colour in a hanging basket.Se_14_HBindexSe_14_hangingbasketimages


Hardy and tolerant, we love these plants in hanging

baskets, or in pots by the front door

 Hot is the operative word for these super-charged veggies, in looks, taste and growth requirements.

Chillies come from the same species (capsicum annum) as sweet peppers, and are kin to tomatoes, aubergines, potatoes and tamarillos. To produce their fiery heat and fine flavour, they need to be grown in the heat of summer, and allowed to mature through a long, fine autumn.

If you’re planning to grow chillies from seed, sow in trays or pots and place in a warm spot – they require temperatures of at least 15deg C to germinate (like most other plants, chilli seeds need warmth, oxygen and moisture before germination can occur).

Anything you can do to increase heat aids their subsequent growth, including covering them with cloches or surrounding them with heat-absorbing rocks.

When the soil and weather is reliably warm, plant your chillies, 30cm apart, in fertile, free-draining soil. Don’t over-burden soil with fresh nitrogen – too much nitrogen produces excess foliage at the expense of fruit, and makes plants susceptible to disease.

Pick a warm spot that receives full sun for at least half the day, and feed regularly with liquid fertiliser to ensure steady, disease-resistant growth.

Chilli plants are compact, but because of their shallow root system need support – put a stake in when transplanting. They also need regular watering to produce quality fruit, but are pretty tough once established, and can tolerate dry conditions provided they have periodic deep watering.

Soil that stays wet for long periods can bring on root-rot, and may also lead to fruit having a bitter taste, and plants grown in constantly dry soil will produce smaller crops of under-sized fruit. Mulching with a weed-free product, such as pea straw pellets, will help maintain soil moisture.

Regular harvesting of chillies encourages more fruit to grow, so make sure you pick early and often. When you’ve picked the summer crop, prune plant to at least half their size – this helps the chilli survive over winter.

Chillies are eaten in almost every culture, and there are hundreds of varieties around the world, ranging from mild to the exceedingly hot, such as ‘Habanero Red’, which has a colour to match the flavour – a variety for the true chilli aficionado!

A pungent yet mild variety is ‘Anaheim’ which ripens to a deep scarlet, but can also be used when still green if fully formed.

If you’re interested in drying your chillies, ‘Asian Fire’ is hot and spicy, can be used in both its unripe and ripe form, and is an excellent variety for stringing up, drying, then grinding into your own chilli powder.F_Se14_hot-chilli-peppers

Chilli plants are an attractive addition to either the ornamental or vegetable garden, and with their glossy leaves, white, star-shaped flowers and first green, then deep red fruit, look good enough in pots to grace the sunniest spot on your deck or porch – but keep way from little fingers.

As soon as a splash of yellow appears I know spring is on its way. The bright, nodding blooms signal the end of winter’s dark days, reminding us of the joys a new season will bring. It’s not surprising the Cancer Society of New Zealand use the daffodil as their symbol – it represents hope.

Daffodils are easy to grow and require little attention. They are one of our most popular spring-flowering bulbs, and whether you call then narcissus, or daffodil, it really doesn’t matter. Narcissus is the Latin or botanical name for all daffodils and jonquils – daffodil is the common name for all members of the genus narcissus.

My favourite is “King Alfred”, a traditional yellow, plain, long trumpet type. This giant daffodil was first raised in 1890, and named after one of England’s greatest medieval kings. “St Issey”, an early flowering new-comer, has a long stem similar to King Alfred and a large yellow cup – even older than King Alfred are the fragrant double daffodils, Narcissus “Telmoneus Plenus”.Se_14_Daffodils

The dainty, miniature Narcissus bulbocodiu “Citrinus” has bright golden trumpets which open wide, giving the appearance of hoop petticoats. Narcissus cantabricus, another miniature hoop petticoat, has solitary, pure white blooms with small, pointed petals and open trumpets that appear on leafless stems. Although miniature daffodils move easily in the breeze, and look delicate, they are actually quite sturdy, and look delightful at the front of a border.

Golden-eyed “Soleil d’Or” looks great in molten drifts under deciduous trees, or planted randomly in grassy, undisturbed areas. This highly-scented, vigorous daffodil was raised many centuries ago, and produces multi-headed blooms with orange-red trumpets.

The all-time fragrant favourite must be “Earlicheer” with its fluffy, double, creamy-white flowers. Plant this gorgeous daffodil somewhere close, where you can appreciate the highly scented blooms.

When selecting bulbs make sure they are firm, and generally speaking, the larger the bulb, the better the flowering. Plant in a well-drained soil in early autumn, and bury twice as deep as their width. Before planting add peat, compost or well-rotted organic matter, and it’s also a good idea to mix in some bulb food. Make sure you protect new shoots from rampaging slugs and snails!

Daffodils prefer full sun, although they will flower in light shade. They can be left undisturbed for several years, and only need lifting and dividing when over-crowded. Don’t be tempted to tidy up and cut the foliage back, as leaves contain the bulb food supply for following season. Tie foliage in a knot, or fold foliage over and secure with rubber band. If you hate the messy look, disguise by planting annuals and perennials around bulbs. After foliage has dried naturally, it can be removed.

Daffodils also look spectacular in containers, particularly the miniatures. Use a quality potting mix and water regularly. Place the pot in a shady spot until shoots appear, and then bring out into full sun.

No matter where they grow, daffodils are one of the happiest flowers – those swaying heads of yellow, cream and orange make us smile.Se_14_earlicheer


Shade-tolerant, with striking foliage. From miniatures for rock gardens to large-leaved with heart-shaped foliage that can range from vegetable-green through dark green to blue, some with white edges . We have a dozen interesting varieties, including H plantaginea, with scented flowers.Se_14_Hosta3Se_14_Hosta2

Hosta plantaginea

Hosta plantaginea


Grear companion plant for Hostas.

Feathery plumes of white, pink, or lavender flowers.


Clivia are hardy, low maintenance, shade-loving South African plants. We have a good variety from the breeder Mr Goodwin of Waikanae. They are quite rare.


The Acer family from Japan is renowned for its fabulous Autumn colour. We have lots of different Maples, from Patio plants to serious trees. Foliage to die for.