BOP gardening news

Nice to see a name I personally know among the Queen’s Birthday Honours announced last week. Shirley Kerr (pictured below) has become a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to mycology. Read my 2013 profile of her here (she has since moved to Rotorua).

Her award citation says: “Mrs Kerr has a background in education, teaching at several secondary schools between 1973 and 2017, specialising in biology. She has been a driving force for mycological exploration and education in the Bay of Plenty area. She has built a database of species on her website Kaimai Bush and in 2019 published A Field Guide to New Zealand Fungi, which has been highly acclaimed nationally and internationally for its accessibility. She has found at least five previously undescribed species and recorded in excess of 600 different species. She served on the council of the Fungal Network of New Zealand (FUNNZ) for 15 years, was Treasurer from 2009 to 2011, and played a key role in organising four annual New Zealand Fungi Forays. The Fungal Forays attract scientists from New Zealand and overseas. Mrs Kerr’s voluntary education efforts in mycology have included running workshops for upskilling in macro photography for botanical work, fostering children’s interest at national forays, organising field trips, public speaking engagements, and providing samples of Landcare New Zealand’s Herbarium or for overseas examination.”

Today’s Bay of Plenty Times reports on plans to restore the habitat around a stream on the flanks of Mauao (Mt Maunganui) which will see the felling of four oak trees, believed to be 80to 100 years old, and the site re-established as a place for flax weaving. Some of the oak wood will be carved and returned as taonga (treasures).

Above: The stream’s name is Waipatukakahu which translates as “the stream where the flax garments are made”. Oak and other leaves block the stream every year for several months. Photo: Sandra Simpson

The area will be planted with several local types of harakeke (flax) used for weaving. Hopefully, the administration board and council have taken into account that flax is a notorious haven for rats and step up predator control as the flax goes in – the maunga is also home to plenty of birds which enhance any walk there. In fact, we recently stood and watched fantails having a grand old time flitting in and around this stream (with signs about the plans nearby).

A belated Happy Birthday to the Tauriko Garden Club, which this year has celebrated its 60th birthday. I was honoured to attend a recent meeting as a guest speaker, so much accumulated wisdom in the room!

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