Nestlebrae nursery, owned by John Prince and Rosemary Steele, moved north with John in October 2011. I brought some things with me, such as "Marilyn", and I continued experimenting with brand new hibiscus plants I'd raised from seed, but, in terms of plants, I've been starting from scratch again. My idea was to bring some small plants of some of my favourites from South Kaipara Head with me, and to then concentrate on multiple plantings of a relatively few species in a slightly warmer climate. Rosemary retired to a new house and a cooler location on a farm near the family of one of her brothers much further south. But first a little history and explanation.
Exotic fruiting plants
Northwest of Auckland, in the countryside near Helensville, Nestlebrae Exotics was run by John Prince and Rosemary Steele was the New Zealand specialist in warm climate fruits, particularly the more unusual and exotic species and varieties. Our knowledge, range, and contacts in this area were unrivalled. However, Nestlebrae downsized and moved to near Kerikeri. Only a few fruit species would be carried after the end of 2011.
John also had a developing interest in hibiscus, a type of plant for the warmer regions of New Zealand. The more I dealt with hibiscus, the more I thought that the plant trade had generally been slow to present many really modern trends alongside the older varieties. There a few fairly modern hybrids available commercially now, but that could be expanded. This became my main focus, and I hoped to spend the next few years building up a stock of hibiscus, old and new, for sale.
At Nestlebrae near Helensville we sold palms, and did offer some less common species for collectors. John's practical interest in palms continued in his Kerikeri location. (I had been editor of the Palm and Cycad Society of New Zealand's quarterly journal for seven years, as well as having a big collection of about 170 different species, varieties, or locality type variations.) But, from the end of 2011, Nestlebrae ceased to sell them, although a few plants excess to requirements may be available in 2012.
We used to also sell quite a few ornamentals, but that also ended in December 2011. As plants become established at Nestlebrae in the north a small range of ornamentals will be offered again.
Advice is free
We had a large display garden, and a small nursery, along with lots of knowledge about plants from traditional cottage garden favorites (Rosemary's specialty) to cutting edge subtropicals for northern New Zealand. While memories of that period are retained, from 2012 the focus was to be on hibiscus, plus a few edibles and ornamentals.
For information on products and sales, click on "Products" above and then go to "General Information".
John was sad to leave so many fine plants behind. This photo below was from about 2005. Amongst other things in it are palms including Brahea edulis, Hyophorbe indica from Reunion Island in the Indian Ocean, Butia yatay, and a date palm (let's call it the variety 'Foodtown' !) grown from a supermarket seed in 1990. They all grew and flourished further in later years, and this was just a tiny sample of the plant collections that John and Rosemary had built up.