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Rain, rain, go away for daffy day

With orders for Daffodil Day fast approaching, Wairarapa Cancer Society organisers are holding out hope that bunch numbers will pull through, despite a wet and wild winter causing delayed blooms.

Every year, Alistair Sutherland, with his wife Jacqui Sutherland, donates thousands of the daffodils they grow at Whāngaimoana, South Wairarapa.

But Sutherland said this year they’ll be lucky if they are able to pick half the amount that are normally ready by now.

“It’s just been so cold and wet,” Sutherland said.

“There’s quite a lot that won’t be flowering for Daffodil Day. We’re not the only ones in this position, I think most people with daffodils are way, way behind.”

Sutherland keeps rainfall records and noted that in the 44 years he and Jacqui have been planting daffodils, he has never seen a winter as wet as this one.

Estimating that 10,000 would be a good pick for this season, Sutherland said they normally produce around 18,000.

“One night about 10 days ago there was a huge dump of rain during the night, and a lot of the daffodils were underwater, and they had two ducks swimming around them,” Sutherland said.

“I thought it was very rude of the ducks.”

Thinking of small-scale home growers of daffodils, Sutherland said he hopes there might be others who can make up for the sodden blooms.

Fern Moore, another regular contributor to Daffodil Day volumes, said she has had a similar experience.

“From Gisborne all the way down the east coast, it’s been a bit of a hammering,” Moore said.

“We’d had such a wet winter last year as well and it just never stopped.”

After higher-than-predicted rainfall and two cyclones, Moore said flower numbers are certainly down.

“Everything is just a bog. They’re trying quite hard to be cheerful, there’s just not the numbers there would normally be.”

Wairarapa Cancer Society centre manager Amber Arkell said, unfortunately, there is little they can change about the wet weather conditions pushing the bloom timeline out.

“It’s the one thing we can’t control. Those who would normally have them and supply them – they’re just not out yet.”

Arkell said the ability to grow and supply its own daffodils for the charity is one of the region’s unique campaign elements.

“We’re one of the only cancer societies in the country that don’t have to buy our daffodils. It’s a lovely, special thing Wairarapa has going on,” Arkell said.

“It just adds another element to the campaign, given that we’re here for the local community and the local community rallies behind us to pull it all together.”

If numbers next week do turn out to be lower than expected, Arkell said she hopes those at home might be able to help out with orders.

“It’s the same as with our donations, every little bit counts.”

Annual Daffodil Day volunteer and fresh flower coordinator Jane McKenzie said she is hoping some fair weather this week will push things along.

“This year’s been incredibly wet obviously, wetter than we’ve ever seen,” McKenzie said.

“So we are a bit unsure of what we’re going to get.”

McKenzie said they are hoping anyone who might be able to help fill any gaps in daffodil bunches will reach out.

“If you’ve got 50 daffodils, well, that’s a fabulous donation,” McKenzie said.

“People are so happy to give and be involved because it is a visual thing, something we all know well, and something that affects everybody in one way or another.”

McKenzie said the Wairarapa Cancer Society is one of the few in New Zealand which uses donated flowers for the annual appeal.

“This means there are fewer costs and more money raised in the region going towards local people.”

Anyone who might be able to contribute to the daffodil donations is encouraged to get in touch with the Wairarapa Cancer Society.

Bella Cleary
Bella Cleary
Bella Cleary is a reporter at the Wairarapa Times-Age, originally hailing from Wellington. She is interested in social issues and writes about the local arts and culture scene.

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