About Us & Our Philosophy

About Us

We are Natalie and Zolton. Parents to four. Grandparents to one and carers of fur mammals galore. Managers at some points in our lives, salespeople in another part, builders, plumbers, heavy machinery operators, researchers, investors and tinkerers are our backgrounds and we’re still learning new things daily. I do not see why we cannot add gardeners to that little list, why not give it a go. That is our attitude and motto:

“Let’s just give it a go!”

We have a small one and a half acres of what once was bare land. After two years of research we settled on flowers as a crop we would like to try our hands at. We are at the close of our first year amid the Covid – 19 upheaval. It can only get better.  Hügelkultur beds are our choice of bed to help improve the soil structure and for retention of moisture over the next three to five years. We started with six fourteen metre beds, and the bare field sung over the Summer with wildlife visiting the riotous, coloured Dahlia.


 Fourteen metre Hügelkultur trenches dug to a depth of one metre, trenches filled with green material, back filled with soil.

I cannot imagine what my husband would have thought of me if I said to him thirty years ago “You and I are going to grow flowers together one day!” Today (thirty years later) we live a spit away from the Te Mata hills. And the Kaweka ranges make sure we do not get too much of the Tasman precipitation, ideal for Dahlias. Hawke’s Bay is our stomping ground and where the good things in life are for us.

Our environmental viewpoint

From the concept of our business model we have strived to reduce our carbon footprint, by using what we have, combined with other people’s waste where possible. The lady that sells carpet gives us the rolls the carpet comes on. The bread company that have slightly broken bread crates, non-compliant bread packaging and broken bread display units have donated their waste to us, happily. The fruit packing shed has given us their broken packaging that finds a second wind in our field. Green waste has been added to our Hügelkultur beds, to improve the soil and has come via our friends that would rather not pay to dump it.

Please don’t be surprised when your on-line tuber order arrives to you in a recycled bread bag. Or, if you buy from us at the market and find your cuttings and seedlings have been grown in cardboard rolls, that had a previous life as a carpet roll. To us that is a win-win situation.

Our Quality promises

We endeavour to make sure our tubers, cuttings and blooms are from reliable sources, as the quality of what we sell and their output is a high priority to us. We will also endeavour to make sure what we sell to you is of the highest quality that we can provide, by adopting working practices that are beneficial to the health of our product.


Tubers are excruciatingly picked over one by one, to make sure diseases are not present on new tubers introduced from other sources on planting, and on lifting at the end of the season. We will try to ensure that the tubers you purchase are fit for purpose and that they will push forward growth and therefore give you blooms for the following year. The anticipated excitement that goes with waiting over the winter for blooms in Summer is high. It is therefore important to us that you get your blooms in Summer and that it is not tarnished by a no bloom disaster because we did not live up to our end of the deal.


The tools we use are disinfected between each cutting that is taken. This is to ensure you receive disease free stock for your garden. The containers they are sold in are disinfected and generally biodegradable, where we can source it, and as is required from the Farmers Market we attend in Napier.


Our blooms are heat treated to prolong their short cut life. Three to four days is the maximum life span of a Dahlia when it is cut for a vase. We can and have extended that by an extra day and in some varieties two extra days. Flower preservatives are not required for these blooms as they will not perform past four to five days in a vase with, or without a preservative. Do not waste your money or preservative. We will do what is needed to give you a little more life out of your blooms. Blooms are cut the night before they are needed, and are immediately treated.  Then they are stored in a controlled atmosphere, to make sure they are as fresh as they can be to fill orders, and be delivered to our stockist or to go to market.

Our future

Our goals for the future are broad ranging. Fundraising and public events are a possibility and developing a finished product and merchandise are good prospects also. Having beds full of beautiful healthy blooms is always going to be necessary for sales, and to meet the other prospects we have in mind. We both get a little excited and new dahlia discussions happen daily.

We hope you enjoy browsing our web site and hope you have enjoyed looking at all the blooms we have so far. We are looking forward to documenting our progress over the coming years to share with everyone and hope you enjoy the journey with us.

Natalie and Zolton
Directors of Spade and Shovel.