Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Renga renga lilies coming in to flower

Over the past few years John Horrell and some helpers have planted hundreds, even thousands, of renga renga lilies at Roland's Wood.  These quick-growing, evergreen native lilies are planted for their beauty - dainty nodding clouds of white flowers from November to January, above wide, green, hosta-like leaves - and also planted for their effectiveness in suppressing weeds, but most of all they are there to help protect the trees... How do they do this? Simply, by protecting the trees' roots.

Beech trees are very shallow rooted and this makes them vulnerable in our Northland climate - both in winter when very heavy rains on the steep slopes can wash away the soil around the roots, and in summer when drought can be a problem - our summers are longer, hotter and drier than most English summers. 

Renga renga lilies are hardy and can tolerate shade and sun.  They do have a fearsome adversary in the slugs and snails that feast on their leaves but John says we seem to be very fortunate at Roland's Wood and have not had this problem. 

We have Judith and Bruce Burling to thank for providing many of these plants - they have been propagating and donating renga renga lilies for a few years now and this has been worth a fortune to Roland's Wood. 

Here are a couple of pictures from the Wikipedia page (Creative Commons licence)

Isn't this close up of a single flower exquisite?

Renga renga lilies were cultivated by Maori as a source of food - the fleshy rhizome roots were cooked in a hangi, and the plant also had medicinal uses. Read more here TERRAIN 

Monday, September 15, 2014

Gold amongst the bluebells

These gorgeous golden retrievers are, from left to right, Rana (mother), Bella (one of her daughters), Polly (another of her daughters) and Jenna.   Christine Henderson owns Rana and Bella, and Rosemary and Mike Wright own Polly and Jenna. The Wrights came from Kaitaia especially to see the bluebells and weren't disappointed.

Can't you just imagine stroking those soft floppy silky ears?!

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Decorated dandelion dog

Georgie took this picture of Beanie, dressed in dandelion jewellry for her walk in the Woods. 

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Comfort for those who have lost a loved dog...

Hi Jeannie,
My wife and I visited Roland's Wood when we were on holiday last year and again this year.

We have three dogs that we take wherever we can and we all enjoyed our time at the Woods.  I do not have any photos worthy enough to be included in your blog but if you have not seen this attachment already you might find it suitable. I do not know who the author might be but for anybody who has experienced the loss of  their dog we think it is very moving.

Kind regards to you and all the Roland's Woods helpers,
Jan, Mike and our three trouble makers - Tibetan Terrier Duffy, Cairn a girl Georgie, and our West Highland White Terrier Robbie.

Thanks for sharing that, Jan and Mike - tugging on the heartstrings of anyone who has lost a loved canine companion...

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Beautiful bluebells

A post by John Horrell celebrating the bluebells :

Springtime - lambs and daffodils, longer days and mowing lawns, and here in Kerikeri, the addition of  bluebells (albeit Spanish bluebells) flowering spectacularly in a soft blue haze beneath the bare grey branches of the beech trees. Like everything in nature the exact peak of flowering will vary from season to season, but the bluebells are generally flowering for about 4 - 5 weeks from early September to early October. 

Opinions vary enormously over visitor's favourite seasons in the Woods but every seaon brings its pleasures - Rolands Wood does not suffer from the "winter drab". 
At this stage of the Wood's development  the bluebell season probably wins the popularity stakes, and this may always be the case, but recent plantings will provide interest all year round.

 Photos by David Welch

Newly planted maples with stems ranging from pink to firery red add their own drama and colour in winter months, and massed plantings will feature a range of colours - from bright orange red, through to creamy whites and pinks, which will be spectacular in a few years time.  Hellebores, foxgloves, forget-me-nots, hollyhocks will add colour and drama, reminiscent of the English gardens that Roland loved.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Hey everyone, the bluebells are starting!

Wish I were a better photographer...
See this earlier post about bluebells - Spanish and English, and their connection to asparagus...

Picnic time in Roland's Wood

Lovely to see the cheerful Sykes family enjoying an early spring picnic supper at Roland's Wood today :-)

 Even ample parking for the transport!

Hatchards at Roland's Wood

It was a pleasure to meet John and Dawn Hatchard at the end of their walk in Roland's Wood late this afternoon, just as the sun was going down...

I said I'd have no problem remembering that surname - John Hatchard is a descendent of the John Hatchard who founded Hatchard's bookshop of Picadilly, London which is where I worked when on my OE in London in the 1980s and happily met my bookseller husband, Kevin.

Hatchards is a special and wonderful bookshop - for reasons as well as romance! It was founded in 1797, and is still going today - London's oldest bookshop, 5 floors of books in an old building, paperbacks "below stairs", children's books on the top floor, with staff who all read and love books...  It is next door to a very smart "grocer's shop" - Fortnum and Mason, and across the road from the Royal Academy.

Read more about Hatchards here from Wikipedia -  "Its origins were founded through a bought collection of merchandise from Simon Vandenbergh, a bookseller of the 18th century. Simon Vandenbergh's grandson, John Vandenbergh Quick was the inventor of the first pop up book and his grandson created the images of Sherlock Holmes and Mother Goose as we know them today in wood carvings."

and here is a link to the (not very exciting) website.

Many of Hatchards customers were rather old school, and one of my favourite stories was from Simon Bainbridge, Front Shop Manager, who had a customer, an old codger in tweeds up to London from the country, doing errands for his wife...  He came into the shop, and reading from his list, asked, "Have you got Face Cream by Elizabeth Arden?"  Bless.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Billy, Jill and compliments

A lovely email came through on Friday from Jill who loves visiting the Woods with her beautiful golden retriever, Billy...

Hi Jeannie
I would like to say how much I love Roland’s Woods, for so many reasons.  The settings , the gardens, the different seasons and the different views, the freedom to walk my dog without issue, the other lovely people and dogs you meet there.

I am not a local but live in Haruru Falls and visit the Woods whenever I can.  So today I managed a short and level walk at the top of the grounds,  I am 6 weeks in recuperating from a big Spinal Op.  I had been wanting to see the beginning of the spring flowers, I was not disappointed.

I enclose a photo of Billy my Golden retriever enjoying with me some early daffodils.  Thanks to all involved in what is such a delight in my life.

This was such a delight to receive - so glad to have another story to share here on the blog, and who could resist Billy - such a beautiful dog with a backdrop of golden daffodils, like a burst of sunshine on a wintery day...

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

And about the planting of some trees, and hellebores...

Just a brief follow up post to the previous item about the removal of some trees...  John H. mentioned that over 60 trees have been planted so far this year at Roland's Wood, and that 1,000 hellebores are ready to go in soon...

Here are some notes about hellebores from Wikipedia
  • They are particularly valued for their winter and early spring flowering period; the plants are surprisingly frost-resistant and many are evergreen, and are excellent for bringing early colour to shady areas under trees.
  • The scientific name Helleborus derives from the Greek name for H. orientalis "helleboros"; "elein" to injure and "bora" food. Many species are poisonous. 
  • Hellebores flower in spring time, which in the Northern hemisphere is around the period of Lent, and they are often known as Lenten hellebores, oriental hellebores, or Lenten roses, but they are not related to the rose family.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

About the removal of some trees

I received a query from a couple concerned about the removal of some trees from the Woods, and thought that others may have some questions too, so am posting the query here and my reply here in case of interest:

Thank you for supplying your email address for those who have questions.  This is very kind.  We have a question and we would like to ask the good people from rotary and all other gardeners in Rolands wood without offending them in any way.  Why do they chop all those trees?  Today we noticed more orange ribbons around tree trunks and it looks like more trees will be chopped.  We love Rolands wood and we are there nearly every weekend with our two dogs for the last three years.  And every year we see more and more trees removed and weeds growing instead of English beech trees, tulip trees and oaks.   We think the character of the woods is changing and we are not sure it is for better.  The woods are not woods anymore and English beech woodland is losing its character. Our question is: What is the reason for this mass tree removal?  Thank you Jeannie in advance for passing our question and maybe replaying to this email , we are looking forward to know the answer.

First of all, thank you for your inquiry and for caring enough about the Woods to follow up your concerns.

You are right, there have been some tree removals recently and there are some more trees identified for removal too, but the reasons for this are sound and based on good consultation with experts including arborists and landscape designers.  I have attached here a couple of reports by landscaper Margaret Phillips for your information.  John is just waiting on a report from another independent arborist Roy Hollister.

Unhealthy trees
The trees that have been cut down, and the ones currently tagged, are trees that were / are in bad shape - stressed, dead or dying, or compromising other trees.  They are covered in lichen or sooty mould, they have lost their leaves much earlier than other trees, and they are badly shaped, probably from initial inexpert pruning when they were very young.  If you look at the trees tagged for removal, you'll see yourself that they are not healthy trees.   All removed timber is used for mulch in the Woods.

In some cases the trees were planted too close together, restricting the amount of light which in turn impacts on plant growth and soil / ecosystem health.  Apparently, a 1% increase in light can result in a 100% increase in plant peformance, with light being even more important than water or soil nutrients.  Roland was in a hurry to get a woodland effect and did mass planting but as the trees have grown they are compromising each other's long term viability.

Suitability of beech
Roland fell in love with beech trees and planted a lot of these trees, along with the bluebells.  However, beech are not naturally found in this climate - it is too humid up here and not cold enough winters, and so as the trees age this "unnatural setting" for them will start to have an impact on their longevity.  By removing the unhealthy trees it will give the others a better chance of thriving.
Roland also planted a huge variety of other trees and flowers, so he never had in mind an exclusively beech woodland - he planted cedars, silkwoods, magnolias, rhododendrons, maples, oaks, ginkos, camellia, azalea, subtropicals, dombeya, lassiandra, bottlebrush, pohutakawa, acmena, and a wide variety of bulbs… It wasn't a purist approach!

You mention more weeds becoming apparent but I think you are mistaken on this.  The woods were rescued from a decade of complete neglect - read more about this on the blog under The story of Roland's Wood - when the weeds took over the woods completely.  Kikuyu, gorse, tobacco, kapok - you name it the woods was thick with it, practically impenetrable, and gradually the weeds have been brought under control.  It doesn't help having some very overgrown neighbouring sections which means that weeds get spread by wind to the Woods, but those issues are gradually being addressed.
The Woods may have looked weedy and messy while the tree trimming was happening but a good mow once all the prunings and timber were tidied up made a big difference.

The massive plantings of renga renga lilies, iris, clivia, hydrangea etc and the ongoing labourious process of mulching as much as possible is doing a lot to keep weeds down, enrich the soil and to hopefully reduce future maintenance.  The other advantages of this "understory" planting is both to manage water flows to avoid soil erosion in very heavy rainfalls, and of course, too, for the pleasure of swathes of flowers and interesting foliage to add to the variety through the year.

Next steps

For every tree removed, more are being planted - chosen for suiting our climate and the site as well as being true to Roland's original vision.  New vistas are being opened up and new pathways created which gives people, and dogs, more options for which route to take and which part of the Woods to explore.

I think perhaps it would have been a good idea to explain some of this to people using the woods so they knew what was going on and why, but the overwhelming response from people using the woods regularly over years has been to comment on all the steady improvements - be it access, plant health, variety…   I'll add a post to the blog, and I would like to see some good signage and noticeboard installed at the entrance, but even something as simple as this is complicated by the management structure of the Woods at the moment.

An actual "English beech woodland", left to its own devices to grow "naturally", is just not possible to achieve in Kerikeri.  We have a completely different climate and ecosystem, and so we need to do what we can to maintain the best of Roland's vision - part of which was a healthy beech woodland underplanted with bluebells, but also his vision included a variety of magnolias, lilies, ponds and pathways, autumn colour and so much more for the people and dogs of Kerikeri.

I hope this has answered your question.  If you would like to talk about it more, perhaps contact John Horrell to meet you at the woods one weekend and discuss it with him.  John, who was a friend of Roland's and the instigator of the wood's revival, is passionate about making the woods as enjoyable, interesting, accessible, manageable and sustainable as possible.  He welcomes any input and support.  The Kerikeri Rotary Club are no longer involved in the woods. 

I knew Roland myself a little and imagine that he would be absolutely delighted to see the Woods as they are now, how they are developing, and how they are used and enjoyed by so many. 
Aren't we lucky to benefit from his dream, efforts and generosity?!
Kind regards, Jeannie

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Maple tree autumn colours

Here are a couple of photos of some crimson maple tree autumn colours, taken a week or so ago and kindly sent by Louise who brings her dog Champ to the Woods most days...

Monday, April 14, 2014

Photos from Mike - "Sunday School" at Roland's Wood

Everyone is sitting here, being so very nice!  Another lovely day at Roland’s Wood with the “littlies”...   Photos taken 19 November 2013.
Mike Glover
The reason for the rapt attention is revealed - a little bag of doggie treats!

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Pruning in process

John and Judy Horrell and John and Mavis Graham are off to Christchurch to the Ellerslie Flower Show as part of their well-deserved NZ Gardener of the Year prize.

Meanwhile John H asked me to do a quick post here to explain the "heck of a mess" in the Woods at the moment with all the pruning in process... 

John H and helpers from the FNDC are using a new piece of equipment - a chainsaw on a pole - which is fantastic for pruning the trees.  They have been hugely busy, catching up on years of neglect, and you'll see all the prunings lying on the ground - more to come as they work their way around the Woods.

With the warm humid weather the grass and weeds have been "growing like stink" too and so the place is looking, in John's words, "an unholy mess!", but just temporarily...  The next stage is to chip all the prunings up and to use that mulch around the trees, suppressing the weeds and retaining moisture.  John says over the next few months, the place is going to be looking so much better, with the trees in much better shape.

   Still to tackle...

Meanwhile, the naked ladies are flowering, in the swathes of grass and under the trees - here coming up through the piles of prunings.  I'll tell you something funny - of all the posts in this blog, the one with far and away most hits as point of entry is the post titled "Naked ladies at Roland's Wood", but I have a feeling this isn't quite what the searchers had in mind!

Monday, February 24, 2014

Enjoying the Woods with Honey

Here are the Bush and Peacock families with their happy dog Honey

Annabelle giving Honey a scritch on her head 

Annabelle and Leo have fun looking for cicadas - or rather, where cicada nymphs have left their discarded exoskeletons hanging onto tree trunks...



Visit Te Ara - our wonderful online New Zealand encyclopedia - to read more about cicadas.

"In its final moult, the cicada changes from a drab, ground-dwelling nymph to an often colourful, energetic, winged adult. The exoskeleton is entirely shed, including the linings of the breathing tubes, which can often be seen poking out from the cast skin. In areas dense with cicadas, dozens of skins can be seen on tree trunks.

The nymphal skin splits along the back of the thorax and an adult gently emerges and hangs to allow its soft and crumpled wings to be pumped up to their full size. By the next morning the wings are hard enough for the adult to fly away, leaving behind the empty case of the nymph."
From : John Marris. 'Cicadas - Introducing cicadas', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, updated 13-Jul-12 http://www.TeAra.govt.nz/en/cicadas/page-1 
The posts along the top fence line have HEAPS of cicada shells hanging there...

Monday, February 17, 2014

Dogs without leashes... Poet, Mary Oliver

I've been enjoying the poetry of American poet Mary Oliver, who, in the way of talented poets, expresses ideas or emotions in such carefully, exactly, exquisitely chosen words that they ring true and resonate... 
Mary Oliver is a poet known for "her clear and poignant observances of the natural world" (Wikipedia).  The poem The Summer Day is a wonderful example of her skills of noticing, describing, rejoicing, questionning,

and here, simply put, here is a mantra :

Instructions for living a life.

Pay attention.
Be astonished.
Tell about it.

Mary Oliver loves dogs and her book of poems Dog Songs celebrates her own dogs as well as the joy dogs bring to the lives of any ardent and fond dog owner. There is a post about it at Maria Popover's Brainpicking's blog

Here is one short poem from Dog Songs which made me think of Roland's Wood...  (instead of "holding this book", think "reading this poem")

If you are holding this book 

You may not agree, you may not care, but
if you are holding this book you should know
that of all the sights I love in this world -
and there are plenty - very near the top of
the list is this one : dogs without leashes.

I think Roland would have agreed with that.  

Monday, February 3, 2014

Beech tree burl

I used to think mistakenly that these growths on the trunks of trees were called boles but I've now discovered that bole is the botanical name for the tree trunk (the main wooden axis of a tree says Wikipedia), and that this knotty lump is a burl - or in England a burr.  Sometimes you see beautiful turned bowls made from burr wood with the unusual grain providing intricate patterns.

Here is some good information about burls from T.E.R:R.A.I.N - Taranaki Educational Resource: Research, Analysis and Information Network

Burls on trees

Burl (British bur or burr) is a tree growth in which the grain has grown in a deformed manner. It is commonly found in the form of a rounded outgrowth on a tree trunk or branch that is filled with small knots from dormant buds. A burl results from a tree undergoing some form of stress. It may be environmental or introduced by humans. Most burls grow beneath the ground, attached to the roots as a type of malignancy that is generally not discovered until the tree dies or falls over. Such burls sometimes appear as groups of bulbous protrusions connected by a system of rope-like roots. Almost all burl wood is covered by bark, even if it is underground. Insect infestation and certain types of mold infestation are the most common causes of this condition.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Roland's Wood, Sir Terry Pratchett and reading

Another way to visit Roland's Wood - let someone else take the dog around all energetically, and sit and have a moment for a good read... Here's Heather, who has just had a knee operation, making the most of some quiet time to read her book, The Wee Free Men by Terry Pratchett.

Here is a link to an interview with Sir Terry Pratchett in The Daily Telegraph, speaking movingly of his Alzheimer's diagnosis, but I especially loved his description of his childhood with the various science experiments and his discovery of the pleasures reading...

The Pratchetts were a happy but thrifty family whose idea of a holiday was a week in Lyme Regis with friends. Terry was a forensic sort of boy, fond of expeditioning and experiments. 
“My father encouraged me to do all the Just William things. He was never so pleased as when I electrocuted him by setting up a little device in his shed to give him a shock when he opened the door.”   Crystal sets, astronomy, science… if the boy had a legitimate passion, his parents encouraged it.
He came to reading late, through a chance encounter with The Wind in the Willows. It detonated a love of books “similar to Hiroshima” and his real education began thereafter at the Beaconsfield public library, where he “read like a mowing machine”.