Thursday, December 27, 2012

December rain and ligularia

The rain over Christmas in Kerikeri might not have been seen as ideal for some people's plans, but it has been brilliant for Roland's Wood, with the the warm, soft, damp weather encouraging fantastic growth - down by the ponds the arum lilies, taro and the "tractor seat" ligularia are flourishing, and it has been a great start to summer for all the young trees planted at the end of winter and the recently planted renga renga lilies.

Here is a link to the Dunedin City Council's webpage about the wonderfully named "tractor seat ligularia", which starts: 
"It is most satisfying when a plant’s common name describes it perfectly. The tractor seat ligularia’s enormous leaves are perfectly reminiscent of an old fashioned tractor seat, amply proportioned and curved for the comfort of your average NZ farmer’s posterior."


Ligularia at Roland's Wood by Keri Molloy. For more photos, see Keri's website

Of course, warm wet weather is great for growing weeds too, and John H says if anyone would be willing to help pull out a few of the small weeds around the young renga renga lilies that would be GREATLY appreciated - phone John to discuss on 09 407 8329 - he said, "If even just one or two people were willing to come lend a hand that would be great".

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Astilbes in flower

Mid-December and the new young astilbes down in the rocky swamp area are in flower - beautiful feathery plumes of pink and cream.  These were only planted in late October, but are doing well - they like wet feet and the conditions will suit them.  John H. says that though it looks a bit messy around them at the moment, they will expand to fill the space and become quite large, bountiful plants, pushing out some the weeds "which is something we dream about happening!"


On one gardening website they are described as "lacey ladies with iron constitutions" and people are advised not to assume these delicate and ferny plants are fussy or tender... they are tough, good do-ers, not prone to pests or diseases, and can cope with water logged and shady conditions, even clay soil.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Two Johns with a Will to work...

Visiting Roland's Wood today I came across a hardworking team of John Graham, John Wilson and Will Gooch, collecting bucket loads / trailer loads of mulch from under trees where there had been some pruning and chipping done, and taking it down the hill to the other team of John Horrell, Vicky and Bianca who were spreading it around new plantings to set them up for dry days over summer.


Thursday, December 6, 2012

An interesting understory

The trees create Roland's Wood, of course, but another wonderful element is the "interesting understory" of planting -  the well-known bluebells spreading prolifically, but also great swathes now of orange clivias, snowy renga renga lilies, hellebores, dietes with their white intricate flowers hovering like butterflies over the spiky foliage, and more being planted all the time...

In November, John with Bruce and Judith Birling planted well over 1,000 more renga renga lilies.  Judith raised the plants herself and donated them to Roland's Wood.  This photo shows plants which are not quite 9 months old - they had a few flowers this year already, and plants which were just a year old in November made a great show.

As well as being beautiful under the canopy of the trees, they are effective in keeping down weeds, controlling soil moisture and en masse, will prevent soil run-off in heavy rain.

John says, "What we are trying to achieve is a three story environment, with ground covers, then shrubs and small trees, under a smaller number of large woodland trees.  This gives plant diversity, dappled light, year-round interest, and variety of habitats for birds and wildlife."

Tree trimming a training opportunity

An intrepid team from Telford Rural Polytechnic Arboriculture Certificate course came to Roland's Wood during May and again in November for some practical experience in silviculture - tree management.

HortTraining, part of Telford Polytech, runs this short course on every facet of arboriculture.  They find Roland's Wood especially helpful as they provide opportunities for the students to experience a wide range of trees and their different requirements.
They especially like the rope climbing! Their peals of laughter resonate around the Woods as they grapple with getting off the ground and into the branches.


Photos by Joe Cooper.  Click to enlarge.