Sunday digest

Full of virus – headaches, sneezing, coughing and overflowing sinuses – so here’s a digest to keep you going.

If you live in the Tauranga area don’t forget to collect seeds, take cuttings and stockpile excess plants for the Swapfest at Sydenham Botanic Park on the afternoon of March 16 (a Sunday). It’s only a gold coin donation to have a stand, and free to just come, look around and chat to the stall-holders. Geoff Brunsden of Wildflower World will be giving a talk on caring for pollinators … and promises a surprise treat as well! Full details on the Events page.

Butterflies are part of the busy legion of pollinators in the garden but the famed annual monarch migration from Canada to Mexico is in trouble – the numbers arriving in the over-wintering ground are at a record low. The largest area occupied by the butterflies was recorded in 1997 and reached 18ha. This season, the area fell to 0.67ha. The culprit, experts seem to agree, is the disappearance of milkweed in the US. Similar to our swan plant, milkweed is where the butterfly lays its eggs and the caterpillars feed until becoming a chrysalis.

I was all set to be a bigger and better monarch farm this summer but we haven’t seen any caterpillars since before Christmas – my total released is a paltry six butterflies. The monarchs come and hang round the swan plants but ants are carrying off the eggs and wasps the caterpillars before I can get to them.

Mary Parkinson, the volunteer who runs the butterfly garden at Te Puna Quarry Park, reports that an Australian painted lady butterfly, thought to have been blown across the Tasman in the spring gales, has laid eggs. I spotted one of these little butterflies in the quarry a fortnight ago. They are often blown to the west coast of the North Island, but not always as far as the east coast.

See some striking images here – the winning photos from the Royal Horticultural Society’s annual competition.

James Golden is a gardener in New Jersey (and he is either in, or coming very soon to, New Zealand – so if you see him say “hello”). This New York Times interview with him about his life, the garden he has created (Federal Twist) and his philosophy of gardening is superb.

Orchid hunter (and heir to an English castle) Tom Dyke Hart was captured by rebels in Colombia and held for nine months, convinced he was going to be killed at any time. To distract himself he designed his perfect garden … and has now created it. Read the story here.

A thoughtful reflection on street trees (in London in particular and England in general) by Tony Russell, including the new threats to urban trees from climate change and increased global trade.

When I was a young thing living in London I had been working most of one Saturday in spring to meet a report deadline. One of my colleagues, and a good friend, who lived in Surrey offered me a ride home in his new car as I was more or less on his way. How glorious it was to ride along Baker Street (I think it was) in the late afternoon after a long day inside with the sun-roof open through which I could see the plane trees with their fresh, new leaves – and Vivaldi’s Spring playing on the cassette deck. Would it surprise you to learn that this was about 1983 and I’d never come across a sun-roof before?

Tauranga is a city that, for some reason, seems to be populated by people who dislike trees. Why? Beats me. I was recently sent a 2002 report, Projected Environmental Benefits of Community Tree Planting which uses Atlanta, Georgia, as a model. Among the key findings:

  • If tree-planting standards were applied to all surface parking lots in the Downtown Atlanta Study Area, mature trees would provide stormwater savings valued at $US491,000 and air pollution mitigation valued at $US7500 annually.

Go on, get outside and hug a tree!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s