Otari Native Plant Botanical Garden and Wilton Bush, Wellington, New Zealand

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A tremendous specimen of Cordyline, the Cabbage Tree

I flew as much as Wellington for every week to get away from my undertaking at Camp Glenorchy after 5 months with barely any break day.  I wished to have an city expertise to distinction residing in a small city on the finish of an enormous spectacular wilderness on the South Island.  Whereas working on the camp I met a pair who lived in London for 20 years.  James Fraser is a horticulturalist and backyard designer who makes a speciality of New Zealand native crops and thier use in British gardens.  Now residing in Wellington along with his spouse Biddy, an completed artist, they had been beneficiant to take me as much as the Wellington Botanical Gardens.  A couple of days later they recommended I go to the Wilton Bush and Otari Native Plant Botanical Backyard, 5 kilometers from town heart in lush hill nation to the north.  I caught the #14 Wilton Bus and the motive force instructed me the place to get off.  What I skilled that afternoon is a botanical backyard of the best rank.

The bus dropped me off across the nook and I crossed the street and entered a superbly designed parking space.  This in itself is a uncommon factor on this planet.  Pure wanting preparations of native stone and rustic stone partitions deliniate the carpark and timber bicycle racks.  A finely carved Maori Waharoa Gate frames the entry that symbolizes passage in to a different realm intrinsically related to the pure world.

Waharoa Gate on the entrance to the gardens

The native plant gardens panorama covers 5 hectares adjoining to 95 hectares of restored native forest referred to as Wilton’s Bush.  The bush was named after a farmer named Lot Wilson, who set the land apart to protect its wild state in 1860, whereas the entire surrounding lands had been being logged or cleared for pasture.   Its a glimpse of what was earlier than the arrival of settlers.

The plush forests of Wilton’s Bush Forest Reserve

To the suitable after getting into the gardens is the Alpine Rock Backyard, which options crops discovered at excessive elevations.  The paths are surfaced with finely crushed gravel with properly composed layouts of native Greywacke stone framing the sides.  These are paths that beckon you to make your approach round unseen bends utilizing design gadgets that allude to these present in Nature.  Steps made out of pure stone give the looks of strolling in a condensed pure panorama.

Entrance to the Alpine Backyard

A water backyard of connecting swimming pools winds although boulders and Veronicas, Tussock grasses, Astelias, and Schleranthus in properly composed plantings.  There may be an artwork to arranging crops in a approach that emulates Nature that requires nice ability.  Most of the time, gardeners and landscapers are likely to plant in evenly spaced rows for the simplicity of set up and lack of creativeness.

Swimming pools within the Alpine Backyard

The trail leads in to the wild bush between quite a few Kauri Bushes, New Zealand giants which are native to the extra northern components of the North island.  Due to their wonderful timber high quality, Kauri forests had been closely logged and only a few historic bushes exist right this moment.

Kauri bushes edge the trail main in to the Wilton Bush
A vine wrapped Kauri trunk

From the only story Te Marai o Tane Data heart, a 75 meter lengthy bridge referred to as the Cover Walkway crosses 18 meters above a deep ravine revealing spectacular views in to the forest cover.  It’s one thing of a shock to come back out all of the sudden over this deep canyon stuffed with lush bush progress and behold it from such a lofty vantage level.

The Cover Stroll

The forest features a combination of conifers within the Podocarpus household.  These embody Rimu, Matai, Miro, and Totaras.  Tree ferns rising close to the underside of the ravine are notably magnificent when seen from above.

A view of a mix of Podocarp bushes from the Cover Walkway
View of Tree Ferns from the Cover Walkway

Meryta (Puka) bushes have lovely massive shiny leaves.  Single stalked when younger, they department out and type canopies after they start blooming.  They’re native to the Poor Knight’s Islands, to the north of Northland on the north finish of the North Island.  I simply needed to write that sentence…;-)

A younger Meryta sinclairii (Puka)

Knightia excelsa, the Rewarewa Tree has lengthy velvety pink flowers in Spring which are a supply of nectar for Tui’s, which have a particular and really numerous tune.  Most New Zealand native crops have small flowers which are often white, as a result of there are few native butterflies that may be drawn to colourful flowers.  Most Kiwi crops are pollenated by several types of flies, blow flies, hoverflies, and drone flies, in addition to weevils, moths,  and 30 species of native bees.  Crops which are pollenated by birds are likely to have bigger flowers bearing a number of nectar, and are incessantly pink in coloration like these discovered on Rewarewa and Rata bushes (Metrodideros).

Knightia excelsa (Rewarewa, NZ Honeysuckle)


Metrosideros umbellale (Southern Rata) in bloom on the final day of 2017 at Milford Sound

On the finish of the cover stroll you move by means of one other carved Waharoa Gate.  On the heart of the gate is the face of Tane Mahuta, the guardian of the forest and all residing issues inside it, with Paua shell eyes.  The left facet represents the bugs of the forest, and on the suitable, the birds.  The stippled sample represents the seeds of all of the crops rising right here.  Passing by means of the “Waharoa, you symbolically give your Mana, or energy to Tane Mahuta as an indication of respect for all forests.  Nature is the Tuakana, or elder of man, and by giving your respects to the forest you might be granted passage by means of the forest.  By getting into by means of the gateway you enter in to a different time, house, and realm that’s non secular, energizing and secure from the skin world.”

Waharoa Gate on the finish of the Cover Stroll

Getting into the primary a part of the gardens, it opens as much as a properly proportioned rectangular garden surrounded by gravel paths.  The garden is called after the botanist Leonard Cockayne (https://teara.govt.nz/en/biographies/3c25/cockayne-leonard) who established the gardens in 1927.  Thought-about New Zealand’s best botanist, he and his spouse Maude are buried close by.  He started what’s right this moment a set that numbers round 1,200 native species, together with some hybrids and cultivars.  Most of the crops are threatened of their pure habitat, so the backyard is a type of organic financial institution for preserving the superb biodiversity that’s present in New Zealand.  The outcomes are fantastic.

The Cockayne Garden and Brockie Rock Backyard
The Cockayne Garden with the Brockie Rock Backyard on the left

To the suitable of the garden is a mattress of crops helpful in decorative gardens, and on the left is the Brockie Rock Backyard.  Its named for Walter Boa Brokie, a famous botanist who labored extensively on the spectacular Christchurch Botanical Gardens on the South Island.  He turned curator of the Otari backyard in 1947 and laid out the gathering for the rock backyard and most of the tree and shrub plantings throughout his tenure, increasing on Cockayne’s imaginative and prescient.

The gorgeous Brockie Rock Backyard


A bit of the Brockie Rock Backyard
Foreground: Geranium travesii (Chatham Island Geranium), and Celmisia (Rock Daisy) within the Brockie Rock Backyard
The Brockie Rock Backyard, with Hebe, Parahebe, and Euphorbia glauca
The Brockie Rock Backyard with flaming orange Carex


Containers on the deck of the Leonard Cockayne Middle planted with Astelias

To at least one facet of the Leonard Cockayne Middle is a small nursery the place crops within the assortment are propagated for future plantings and species conservation.  It was closed on the time I used to be there and I used to be unable to talk to any employees concerning the gardens.  Practically the entire 1,200 species of crops within the backyard had been grown from seed or cuttings from their pure habitat.  Some threatened crops are propogated for reintroduction to areas the place they’ve been misplaced.

An indication for the nursery, explaining strategies of propagation


Spiny Aciphylla aurea grows in excessive altitude landscapes

On the finish of the garden, a stone terrace overlooks a decrease graveled backyard planted with crops present in rain shadow environments, the place the local weather is drier.  The terrace comprises the graves of Leonard Cockayne and his spouse Maude.

A stone terrace, referred to as the Cockayne overlook, wanting over a gravel backyard


Orange Carex (Sedge) in a gravel backyard under the Cockayne Overlook

Austroderia species (Toe Toe) are tall grasses distinctive for his or her flowering plumes and are widespread in New Zealand gardens.  They’re intently associated to the South American Pampas Grass, Cortaderia selloana, extra generally used within the West.

Astroderia (Toe Toe) in a Tussock ecosystem planting


The buff coloured plumes of Austroderia (Toe Toe grass) lights up the trail, with a bronze Phormium (New Zealand Flax) to the suitable, and tall mature Pseudopanax ferox (Lancewoods) and brown Carex (Sedge)

Grasses and Sedges are superbly organized in naturalistic mixtures with distinctively textured shrubbery.  Some are orange, others lime inexperienced, or tan and buff colours.

Grasses and Sedges and Groundcovers
Grasses, Sedges, Hebe and Corokia cotoneaster

Gahnia rigida is a sedge present in coastal bogs that has a pleasant architectural type, with tall chestnut brown flower stalks that flip to a brown seed bearing nut with maturity.

Gahnia rigida, (Sawsedge) present in coastal bogs on each the North and South Islands within the Coastal Backyard

Among the most textual plantings within the rock backyard are groupings of Divarcating crops, with densely angular twiggy branches and tiny leaves.  Corokias with silvery twigs and foliage distinction softly with bronze barked Meuhlenbeckias, Coprosmas, Myrsine, Plagianthes, and Sophora (Kowhai).  These crops tailored to predation by 9 species of enormous flightless birds referred to as Moas, which at the moment are extinct.  The biggest species grew to three.6 meters (12 toes) tall, and will simply strip the leaves from crops with out defensive traits.  The one native mammals in New Zealand are bats, so Moas and different birds had been the supply of untamed meat for the Maori individuals, which led to their extinction.

Corokias, Meuhlenbeckias, Coprosmas and Pseudopanax


A beautiful textural planting of Divaricating Crops

Probably the most placing plantings within the backyard is a dense grove of Lancewoods (Pseudopanax ferox).  This species has grow to be fairly uncommon within the wild.  Its Physician Seuss look owes to an evolutionary  attribute the place juvenile crops have lengthy robust bronzy spiny leaves that droop downward on a slim stalk.  When the crops attain a extra mature age they type a rounded clump of foliage on the high and drop the decrease leaves revealing a powerful, deeply fissured trunk.  This adaptation is believed to have developed as a protection towards foraging big Moas.  The thick juvenile leaves could have been tough for Moas to eat, and the clump forming on the high of tall mature bushes would have been out of attain.

A fantastical grove of juvenile and mature Pseudopanax ferox crops and Hebes

A backyard that includes Hebes, Olearias, and Pittosporums join the 2 sides of this decrease space.

Phormium cookianum (Mountain Flax), Hebe salicifolia, Olearia, and Pittosporum
Left: Arthropodium cirratum (Rengarenga) and Proper: Pseudopanax beneath a cover of multi-trunked bushes.

Coprosma is a genus of many varieties of shrubs and groundcovers discovered throughout New Zealand.  One in every of my favorites is Coprosma ciliata, a big upright shrub with tiny rounded shiny leaves set on horizontal fan like branches.  Coprosmas sport colourful berries in orange, yellow, and vivid blue relying on the species.  Bronze and variegated coloured foliage cultivars are generally planted in California gardens.

Coprosma ciliata


Coprosmas and Meuhlenbeckias and a wide range of floor covers


An artfully laid out path


Looking in to the Wilton Bush

A path from the Alpine Backyard leads down a steep forest path in to the Wilton Bush to a small waterfall.  From there the trail follows streams in a circuit path.  The oldest tree within the Wellington area, an 800 yr previous Rimu stands on a hillside accessible by a community of trails.

The waterfall with Elatostema rugosum (Parataniwha, New Zealand Begonia) rising at it is base
Shelf fungi on a decaying tree trunk

The path leads by means of picnic lawns and extensively restored bush plantings.  Hundreds of bushes and shrubs have been planted to speed up the regeneration of the forest.  Birdlife is recovering as a result of elevated habitats and efforts to take away launched predators, akin to Stoats, Possums, and Rats and Feral Cats.

The Troup Picnic Garden
The South Picnic Space within the Wilton Bush

On the map the path results in the Karori cemetery.  I used to be anticipating a small burial plot however was shocked to seek out the second largest cemetery in New Zealand rambling in numerous states of decay throughout the crest of a collection of hills.  80,000 persons are interred right here in principally concrete crypts.  The plush bush surrounding the cemetery makes it a stunning memorial backyard.

The Karori Cemetery
The Karori Cemetery
The Karori Cemetery


Climbing again alongside the streams, and up the hill, I returned to the Botanical Backyard.  I wandered the paths once more admiring this excellent plant assortment set brilliantly amongst the rigorously positioned stones noticed with lovely lichens.  The sunshine grew silvery with some coastal mist drifting in.  A magical day.

One of many many initiatives I’ve been engaged on at Camp Glenorchy is what I name the Zen Backyard.  It’s a strolling backyard in entrance of the Homestead Constructing, which is the primary lodge for the camp.  I laid beneficiant native schist flagstones to create the paths, a fabric that isn’t available within the Wellington area.  I laid the stones in a approach that they relate to one another and create a path that slows you down, so that individuals will stroll the backyard and soak up its particulars.

The Zen Backyard at Camp Glenorchy

I additionally included lovely massive boulders that talk to the mountains past.  The entire crops used within the gardens are native to New Zealand aside from those who produce meals.  It was an thrilling undertaking for me as I used to be primarily centered on creating stone mosaics for an extended time frame.  I’ve put quite a lot of time in to studying extra concerning the fantastic native flora that graces this superb nation.  Within the fall I transplanted collections of two species of Acaena, a groundcover from the Paradise Valley up the Dart River.  I dug them from an space that has been disturbed by the street grading in order to not disturb a wild habitat.  Backyard constructing is my old flame.

Purple Roses from a Girls’s retreat positioned in a stone bowl I carved, within the Zen Backyard at Camp Glenorchy

Thanks for studying, Jeffrey


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