Garden news

Some bits and pieces from the world of gardening …

Gardener charged
Last week’s Herald on Sunday had a news brief saying that Clive Higgie, owner of Paloma Gardens near Wanganui, has been charged by the Ministry of Primary Industries – the first charge to be laid after raids on public and private property two years ago. MPI was hunting for an exotic kauri allegedly imported illegally. However, the HoS records Clive as saying the charges relate to an Australian fig tree!

Some Agathis specialists (the top specialists in the country are, ironically, the ones being raided) argue that the tree MPI is so concerned about, Agathis silbae from Vanuatu, is actually the already recognised and recorded Agathis macrophylla, which has been in New Zealand for some time. This 2012 backgrounder article on the controversy is a good read.

New fig tree with historic connections
A new fig tree from Katikati company incredible edibles may have links to some of the district’s Ulster Irish pioneers (Ulster Scots in the link) as it is thought the original cutting of Candy came from the garden at Athenree Homestead, built by Adela and Hugh Stewart in 1879.


Candy, a new fig from incredible edibles. Photo: incredible edibles

“Someone gave us the cutting and said it came from there,” says Fiona Boylan of incredible edibles. “Fig names have been causing problems in New Zealand for years, though – the same tree can produce different fruit in different soils and climates.”

Some of Adela’s original orchard still stands and in among the trees is at least one fig, although the day I visited the paddock was full of frisky young cattle (some with horns) so discretion was the better part of valour! Volunteers at the homestead make marmalade from “Adela’s citrus trees” and sell it as a fundraiser for the restoration project.

Fig expert John Dean, a life member of the Tree Crops Association who lives near Katikati (and who has a fig variety named for him), says there is a tree in the district known as “Mrs Stewart”, supposedly descended from a fig tree Adela had. He was planning to take a sample of the homestead tree to a South Island expert to see if it could be properly identified.

Blue moon update
Mary Parkinson of the Monarch Butterfly NZ Trust says there are a good number of blue moon butterflies (native to Australia) around Papamoa while someone in Whakatane has 20 or so on a couple of camellia trees. Three males and two females have been confirmed at Te Puna Quarry Park near Tauranga but apparently there have been no confirmed sightings in Auckland so it’s just our bit of the coast that has been graced with their presence!

I recorded my sighting at the Quarry Park on the Monarch Trust website and Margaret Topzand of the trust has been in touch to say that “many sightings of blue moons are coming in, all blown over from Australia via Cyclone Ita”.

Seeds of success
Tomato seeds brought back from Italy by a solider after World War 2 have been distributed in the Timaru area with great success, thanks to Albert Peattie of the Timaru Horticultural Society. Read more here. (No “approved organisms” list then, obviously!)


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