The Alan Journal – By Alan Funnell

The Alan Journal  – By Alan Funnell





Summer 2022

Summer is upon us and we don’t have much time left to enjoy it. I’m a sun lover so I love seeing a clear blue sky with the sun beaming down. We really need to make the most of it in Dunedin and the garden here is situated beautifully to maximize those rays. Although I must admit, as I’m getting older I don’t stay out in the sun quite so long. Handily there’s always an area in the shady part of the garden that needs work so I can just move there if necessary.

It’s shade and ‘feel’ that I’m going to talk about today. On a hot day there is nothing more pleasant than hiding under a leafy green canopy in a garden. Walking around Glenfalloch on a hot day it’s lovely to walk under the Golden Elm that grows over the path that is above the garden behind the Bridal lawn. If you get the right time of day, when the sun is shining through the leaves, it gives a beautiful green hue to the garden.

Gardens tend to have a feel to them and that ‘feel’ can change within a few meters. On a hot day you can feel quite different when you walk from the sun drenched open into the shade of a large tree.

At Glenfalloch there is a real change to the ‘feel’ of the garden as you walk from the lower garden, past the fern garden and up the path. Although it is shadier up this path, I think it is something more than that. The type of planting changes to native species and away from the exotic plantings. There seems to be more Oxygen in the air, you feel calmer, and at ease. You feel at home.  I can only think that this is the native plants making you welcome and drawing you in to be part of the universe that they live in. This area of course is overseen by the magnificent Matai which stands guard and watches all that goes on. It is always grounding to stand by this ancient tree, still yourself, listen to the sounds and imagine what has passed before you. It is a great place for reflection.

So please, the next time you come to Glenfalloch, walk a little bit further up the path and get a real ‘feel’ for the place

Happy Summer, Alan.



Spring 2021

People often talk about Spring colour so I thought that I would too. There’s plenty of it in the garden at present, and it doesn’t last long so best to visit now. Then maybe again the next week, as the garden is always changing with different plants flowering and giving the garden a different feel.

Spring to many people is flowers of bright colours, and often conjures up childhood memories. To me there are 2 main colours that come to mind with Spring.

The first one is the yellow of the daffodils. Who can ignore their beauty as they emerge from the ground and put on a stunning show of perfection. Just the sight of them breaking up through the soil late in winter gives me comfort in knowing that spring isn’t far away.

The second colour could be red, pink, or purple but no, my favourite colour of spring is green. Spring green is like no other and it is the lushness of the new growth that gives me the feeling of life and vitality. It’s no wonder that leafy green vegetablse are so good for us.

As I’m writing this, I look out into the garden and see the Oaks breaking into leaf and the daffodils flowering underneath. What a sight to see. Welcome Spring, come and revitalise us all!


Happy Spring, Alan.




Winter  2021

For some people gardening is like punishment, for others it is time out of their busy world and find it quite relaxing. Often these feelings come from childhood experiences. The house I grew up in had a long gravel driveway, and as a youngster I can remember having to go out and weed the driveway. Each sibling had to do 30 minutes. I can assure you there was some clock watching going on! This obviously didn’t harm me.

I grew seedlings from the Kakabeak that grew outside my bedroom window and can remember bringing home a beautiful white flowering bulb for my mother. Years later I realised that the bulb I planted in the garden with the beautiful white flower was Onion weed. It took years to get rid of them.

We each have our ideas of what gardens and garden tasks should look like. Because of that, gardens are subjective, very much like a piece of art. The difference here is that almost everyone has this ‘art’ on display to anyone that visits or passes their house. Because of this we like it to look good. Plant selection is always very important.

To me some plants are more valuable than others. In a time poor world there are some brilliant plants that once planted take very little time to look after and give so much in return.

One of these plants is the Fuchsia. There are many different varieties available and come in colours of white through to dark pinks and purples. We have our native varieties of which the kotukutuku, or tree fuchsia, is the largest variety in the world.

We can also claim the smallest variety in Fuchsia procumbens, which is a prostrate shrub that creeps across the ground.

Both we have in the garden at Glenfalloch. And they have some interesting features which I can talk about another day.  But the best value fuchsias are the showy ones that flower for months on end with very little attention. They come in a variety of shapes, sizes and colours.

All we do with these is cut them back hard in winter (and they still have flowers on them) and by the time summer is here we have flowers again. We very occasionally give them some water if it’s been a dry summer.

So they really are the best plants out there for months of colour with very minimum care and attention.


Stay warm, Alan






Autumn 2021

Once again autumn is upon us with the nights getting longer and days shorter. It’s time to appreciate the good days and snuggle down at home on the not so good days.

I’m here to talk about the good days, days where you want to get outside for some fresh air. Days where you can take in the beauty of the changing season.

When you are outside next, take a moment to notice the changes. Look for the leaves changing colour, the different colours of those leaves, how those leaves show you the sheltered spots in the garden. Notice the flower buds on the Camelias and Rhododendrons starting to form, a reminder that Spring and its abundance of flowers has started its gradual build up. Think how pleased the plants are to get some moisture, remember that last hot day when you had not drunk enough. Plants cannot take themselves off for a drink, they must wait for nature or an observant human that notices the signs that it is struggling.

A struggling deciduous plant will often drop its leaves early if under stress from dryness. This is the plants way of reducing water loss and increasing its chances of survival. A heavily stressed plant may have one last push to flower prolifically and seed, to at least keep the species going, then collapse never to flower again.

Plants have a wonderful way of showing us how to survive.

Put your roots down deep, take the good with the bad ( there is always some bad that we just can’t do anything about, just like the dry plant), drop things when you’re stressed, live in the moment and know that if times are tough, time to blossom is just around the corner.

Enjoy your garden or come and enjoy ours.


Happy autumn, Alan