Sunday, January 3, 2016

Peel Forest - Near Geraldine Mid South Canterbury.

There are many walks in the area. Two that can be completed in an afternoon are Emily Falls Walk and Dennistoun Bush Walk. Both very different.

After driving through the small (tiny) picturesque village of Peel Forest at the base of the Southern Alps foothills turn left onto Blandswood Road and then at the end of the seal turn right onto Lookout Road and onto the car park.

Emily Falls Walk. Lovely bush and listen to the bellbirds singing.

Walking up the road to the track entrance the air is filled with the ringing sound of the Bellbirds singing in the trees. Starting on the track is easy but soon winds its way upwards for about 15 minutes to the top of the ridge. On the way large 'old man' Fuchsia (Fuchsia excorticata) hang over the track and at this time of year are in full flower. Many ferns line the walking track along the way. 

At the top of the ridge the track divides to go to Emily Falls or Rata Falls.

Taking the Emily Falls track  defend to the steam and walk up stream for about 100 metres. With little recent rain you wont get your feet wet but with gentle and careful rock hopping rejoin the track to the Falls. Lovely bush area and nice stands of South Island Kowhai ( Sophora microphylla).

Return the same way and return time about 1.30 hours to 2 hours.

Photos



"Old Man" Fuschia - Flakey orange bark


Emily Falls 



Dennistoun Bush Walk.  Spectacular 1000 year old trees.

This excellent flat bush walk is found on Blandwood Road before heading up to the Emily Falls car park. A large sign on the  side of the rad  with a nice  mown grease picnic area makes it easy to spot.

A wide waking track leaves the panic area and forks into a circular track around the area.

Within a few metres of entering the track gigantic Totara, Kahikatea and Matai trees are encountered. These extra large trees are remnants for the extensive logging carried out in the 1800’s. Now about 1000 years old these are spectacular in size, form and structure. Not just one or two but many trees are scattered through this reserve.

Apart from the walk and trees take a very short side trip to the saw pit area and imagine to work that early foresters undertook to fell these large trees and  hand mill them into usable  timber.

Enjoy the walk amongst these giants, enjoy the  singing of the bellbirds.



 Totara
 Totara
 Totara
 Kahikatea

 Matai

Saw Pit where felled logs were cut into usable timber


video
Totara Video

The Giant Trees

To help  with identifying the trees the short description below will make it easy. The leaves of these trees are all different but as they are large stand back and look up at them and identify the leaves against the sky.

There are a number of useful links at the end of each description.


Totara, Podocarpus totara. Easily recognises by its tough green spiked leaves about 25mm long and 4mm wide and its stringy bark totara grow into very large diameter trees up to 30m high. Here on this walk are excellent examples of very large specimens. 

"One of the largest trees in the forest, its timber was prized by Maori as being the best for building their massive war canoes, and was also the main timber used for carving. Until more recent times it was also valued for bridge and wharf construction, as well as a wide variety of other uses ... Ancient Maori custom demanded that when a totara tree was felled for timber a young seedling had to he planted in its place in order to appease Tane, the god of the forest, for removing one of his 'children' " (Metcalf 2002).

Kahikatea, Dacrycarpus dacrydioides, (previously Podocarpus dacrydioides) is the tallest native tree in New Zealand. The one growing here are certainly tall and criss cross the track with their large surface roots.

It can be recognised by the leaves which are very small being about 1mm wide and 3mm long tightly packed along the stems. The colour may  change for a large purplish green to an olive green. The trunk has a nice flakey pattern to it with approximately 75mm diameter pieces of bark flaking off at different times. Large rounded surface roots cover the ground around the tree.





Matai, Prumnopitys taxifolia, (previously Podocarps taxifolia). The tall Matai has leaves about 10 - 15 mm long and 2mm wide and a dark green colour. It also has surface roots.





Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Summer Pruning of Roses

Roses, the queen of flowers, are one of summers highlights with their large, bright and scented flowers of all shapes, sizes and forms.


Unfortunately the flowers don't last as long as we would like and we have to encourage more growth and flower buds throughout the summer to have  a continuous  supply of lovely flowers.

Here is how we do that.
  • When each flower has finished prune off the dead head back to the next flowering bud.
  • Usually there are a number of flowers on each stem so when the last flower has finished cut back the flowering stem to the first five leaflet leaf down the stem.
  • Once cut at this point a new flowering stem will grow to produce flowers about 4-5 weeks later.
  • Repeat this as the early rose flowers finish.
  • Repeat this process throughout the summer and autumn to keep rejuvenating the rose bush and produce more flowers.
  • At times the bush may look a little  out of shape and  this can be corrected by pruning some stems a little harder than the first five leaf.
  • If there is any dieback or dying stems these should be removed when identified.

This seems like a lot of work but if you do a little each week it only takes a few minutes.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Incarvillea delavayi

Pride of China, Hardy Gloxinia, Chinese Trumpet Flower, Garden Gloxinia



This beautiful clump-forming perennial is excellent for rock gardens and borders. It has handsome foliage and upright stems bearing large, trumpet-shaped, usually bright pink, flowers in early summer. It grows to a height of 60 cm with a spread of 30 cm, but dies down early in autumn. It is frost hardy, but should be protected with mulch during cold winters. It makes an excellent talking point in the garden.

Incarvillea is a beautiful flowering plant with low growing clumps of glossy, deeply divided leaves from which arise 25cm - 50cm leafless stems topped by clusters of flowers, each flower may be up to 75mm across. The first few blooms on each plant often appear before the rosettes of mid-green leaflets have fully developed. 

Blooming from late spring to midsummer, the large terminal heads of exotic trumpet-shaped flowers are a bright magenta to rosy-pink, with yellow throats and are held well above the rosette of dark green foliage on stout stems. ‘Alba’ and 'Snowtop', are white-flowering varieties.

The fleshy taproot must have excellent drainage as they do not tolerate wet or waterlogged soil in winter and grows best in a rock garden or raised bed in a position that receives some sun every day. Remove faded flowers to encourage more buds. Excellent for cut flowers.

Sometimes it is best to treat them as short-lived perennials but it is well worth the extra effort to grow these plants.

The crowns are easily damaged and plants are very late to emerge in the spring, Do not disturb them and you will be rewarded with exotic looking flowers each spring. Grow Incarvillea in deep, sandy soil that has been liberally enriched with compost. They need consistent moisture while in bloom. 

Protect the young growth from slugs but otherwise no major problems.

Crowns should be buried 75-150mm below soil level in a area with full to part sun that is protected. Plants should be mulched in autumn with dry straw or some other mulch, to protect the crowns from winter damage.

Seeds may be sown in the spring or autumn in sandy soil in a cold frame or they may be sown in trays of soil outdoors and covered with sheets of glass. Seeds need no pretreatment but need light to germinate. Do not cover them with soil. Seeds take about 14 days to germinate with soil temp at 10-15° C. Propagation can also be by very careful division in spring but mature plants do not like disturbance.

The genus Incarvillea belongs to the family Bignoniaceae and consists of 17 species native to central and East Asia, including the Himalayas. All are suitable for rock gardens and borders. Some species are annuals, although those in cultivation are usually perennial. Some of the shorter growing species from higher altitudes of the Himalaya’s, Tibet, India and Turkestan have the largest and most exotic flowers. Most species flower in shades of magenta and deep rose-pink although one or two species come in shades of yellow or white. Unlike most other members of Bignoniaceae, which are mainly tropical woody plants, species of Incarvillea are herbs from temperate regions. Incarvillea is named after the French Jesuit missionary and botanist Pierre Nicholas Le Chéron d’Incarville.


The most commonly grown species is  Incarvillea delavayi.



Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Magnolias in Spring


Everyone recognises the daffodil as being a major element of spring garden displays. Magnolias are just as important in the spring garden and make a fine show once established. A drive around any town or city in NZ will enable the keen observer to spot many different magnolias flowering from early spring to late spring.

One of the most important magnolias is Magnolia campbellii, but there are others equally important depending upon the effect gardeners are looking for. These include M kobus, M stellata, M x Soulangiana, M wilsonii and M seiboldii.

Magnolias belong to a large, varied genus of 125 species of deciduous and evergreen trees and shrubs from east Asia and the Americas was named after French botanist Pierre Magnol. The leaves are usually oval and smooth edged. Known for their elegant flowers and their distinctive character, magnolias are a showy group of shrubs and trees. The large spectacular flowers are generally large, fragrant and solitary with colours including white, yellow, pink or purple, and may be shaped like a funnel, cup, saucer or star.

Magnolias require deep, fertile, well-drained and aerated, mildly acid soil. The fleshy roots are fragile so the plants do not transplant readily. They thrive in sun or part shade but need protection from strong winds. The flower buds are frost sensitive. Branch structure and developing flower buds add interest in winter. Some magnolias flower when they are 2 or 3 years old and others take 10 or even 20 years to come into flower. They are well worth the wait.

M campbellii
This deciduous Himalayan species eventually grows 24 m tall with a 12 m wide crown in the right conditions and there are a few this size in NZ but usually they are a lot smaller. Its slightly fragrant flowers are up to 25cm in diameter and appear on leafless branches from late winter to mid-spring. Plants raised from seed may take from 6 - 20 years to flower. It is reliably hardy. Today there are some really good NZ raised cultivars and hybrids to choose from. ‘Alba’ has pure white flowers; ‘Charles Raffill’ is white and rose purple; ‘Lanarth’ is a deeper rose purple. Magnolia ‘Vulcan’ with dark red flowers.







M.kobus
Deciduous and conical, this Japanese species can reach 10 m tall although it is not often seen this big in cultivation. Its aromatic leaves are 20 cm long and mid-green in colour.  The flowers are produced in early spring before the foliage and have long, narrow petals sometimes stained pink at the base. It can be seen planted as a street tree around Christchurch.

M. stellata (star magnolia)
This many-branched, compact, deciduous shrub from Japan grows 3 m tall and wide, with aromatic bark when young, and narrow dark green leaves. Fragrant, star­like, pure white flowers, 8 -12 cm wide, open from silky buds in late winter and early spring but its flowers are sometimes damaged by sudden frost. It flowers when quite young, and has several cultivars in shades of pink, including ‘Rosea’, ‘Waterlily’, the most prolific flowerer, has more petal and slightly larger white flowers. Though the shrub’s floral display is enchanting, its wonderful open form would recommend it even if it failed to bloom.

M soulangiana
This deciduous hybrid between Magnolia denudata and M. liliiflora first appeared in Europe in the 1820s and is now represented by many cultivars. It is an erect tree 8 m tall and 4.5 m wide, usually single trunked. The dark green leaves are tapered at the base at rounded at the tip, with a short point. Blooms in goblet, cup and saucer shapes and in white, pink or deep purple-pink appear from late winter to mid-spring, before and after the leaves emerge. ‘Alexandrina’ flowers are pure white inside, flushed rose pink outside. Goblet-shaped cultivars include ‘Lennei’, beetroot purple outside, white to pale purple inside; ‘Lennei Alba’ with pure white flowers; and ‘Rustica Rubra’, rose red outside and pink and whit inside.

M wilsonii and M seiboldii
From China, these spreading, deciduous shrubs or small trees grow up to 6 m high and wide. In late spring and early summer fragrant cup-shaped yellow flowers with red or magenta stamens hang from arching branches among narrow dark green leaves that arc velvety be h. These smallish trees represents a group of deciduous summer flowering species from China, with pendent flowers distinguishing them from the upright ones of the better know spring-flowering species. The white blooms are beautifully fragrant.

Magnolia roots arc fleshy and fragile so transplant carefully in spring. Container-grown plants are the best. Look for well-branched plants. Plant them in a fairly shallow hole - just deep enough to cover the roots - but give them enough space for the roots to develop horizontally, and leave enough space for the free in its mature size.

Provide generous water until established, and then taper off to watering during dry spells. Most well-established shrubs growing in a good garden loam can easily tolerate a week or two without water. The frequency of watering and quantity of water will be determined by a number of factors, including soil characteristics and exposure. If the soil is not naturally rich, provide an annual application of organic mulch. Provide generous fertiliser until plants are established.

Some species of magnolia arc attacked by scale. If not controlled carefully, it can cover the plant. The tree is usually able to repel any diseases if properly sited and growing vigorously. Prune magnolias as specimen ornamental trees. To avoid water shoots, any summer pruning should be very light. Remove dead wood anytime.

Magnolias make such a fantastic display that all gardeners should find a home for at least one of the fabulous plants.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Top tips for wannabe backyard beekeepers



DONALD CROSBY
Honey bees
I became interested in beekeeping after talking to my uncle, who is a beekeeper, and observing how few bees were around to pollinate fruit trees. 
Having started with one hive, I am building numbers with a medium term goal of 80 hives.
I love it because it's outdoors and directly helps the environment. Plus, honey fresh from the hive is amazing!
Before starting out as a hobby beekeeper there are some tips you need to know:
1. Check local rules as some councils do not allow back yard beehives.
2. Having your hives side by side is a lot easier long term. It means you can transfer frames of stores/brood between the two, if one hive is weak.
3. Check the location of your hives on your property. Bees take-off from the hive in the same way aircraft take-off from a runway so you want their flight path to be away from your washing line and whoever lives next door.
If the hive is pointed toward a doorway or gateway, having the bees fly past can be in unnerving and increase the risk of stings.
If bees are flying past washing a lot they leave little brown stains on anything white, which isn't very good.
4. Read a Practical Beekeeping in New Zealand a few months before you get your first hive. This is a very good book and will tell you everything you need to know.
5. Obey the rules regarding recording and reporting, it is about protecting the industry.
6. Join a club! You can learn a lot from others

Saturday, August 1, 2015

All Seasons Spraying Oil.


The use of all seasons spraying oil is a natural and easy way to control a wide range of garden pests and diseases. Do not be afraid to use it on a wide range of plants. This is a simple precaution often forgotten but much valuable produce is lost each year through a failure to do this simple operation.  Exceptions are very tender plants with thin fragile leaves. The control of pests and diseases is improved greatly by getting rid of all the pruning’s, rotten fruit and mummified fruit that harbour pests and diseases.

How to use All Seasons Spraying Oil.
The use of all seasons spraying oil is a natural and easy way to control a wide range of garden pests and diseases. This is a simple and organic way to control pests and diseases. Follow the directions on the label.


Do not be afraid to use it on a wide range of plants. This is a simple precaution often forgotten but much valuable produce is lost each year through a failure to do this simple operation.  Exceptions are very tender plants with thin fragile leaves. The control of pests and diseases is improved greatly by getting rid of all the pruning’s, rotten fruit and mummified fruit that harbour pests and diseases.

Friday, July 31, 2015

Spraying deciduous shrubs, fruit trees and roses after pruning


Protecting our plants from invasive pets and diseases is far better than trying to fix the problem later.


Frequently asked questions

How do I dispose of prunings?

  • After pruning pick up all the pieces you have cut off and all the dead leaves. These can be placed into the recycling bins
  • Remove any old mummified fruit and place in the green waste. Don't put it into your own compost heap it probably wont get hot enough to kill and pests and diseases that may be in the fruits.


What do I spray with after pruning deciduous shrubs, fruit trees and roses?
There are two products we can use, both safe. I prefer to use them separately

All seasons spraying oil. 
  • Always read the directions on the bottle
  • This is one of the best products on the market and one of the easiest to use.
  • Measure out the quantity required for your sprayer and fill with water and apply.
  • Throughly cover the remaining stems on the shrub to ensure every part of the plant is covered.
  • You might want to repeat this twice before spring growth occurs.
  • Use this link to find out more All Seasons Spraying oil


Copper oxychloride

  • Always read the directions
  • Controls a wide range of fungal and bacterial diseases on fruit, vegetables and ornamentals.
  • This is a powder so take care and mix according to the directions on the packet.
  • Throughly spray the plants getting to every part of the plant.
  • You can spray this twice  if necessary
  • Use this link to find out more Copper oxychloride


Sunday, July 26, 2015

Eranthus hyemalis, Winter aconite



Winter flowering plants are important in providing unusual spots of colour in the garden. Eranthus is not exception especially when it flowers on the coldest days of the year in July in New Zealand.


The small golden yellow, buttercup like flowers appear above a rosette of roughly serrated bright green leaves on a stem only 10 cm tall. They are great for woodlands but look equally at home near shrubs in a garden border. They are easily propagated by division or from seed. After several years left undisturbed it will have densely colonised a small area and when in flower be a real attraction.

Eranthus has about 7 tuberous rooted species which are native of Europe and northern Asia. E hyemalis originates from France, Italy, Yugoslavia and Bulgaria growing mainly in woodland areas.

Great information can be found in this special edition of International Rock Gardener No 49 January 2014.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Ophir Post Office Postal History




Follow this link to the article





Galanthus - The Snowdrop


Terrible weather lately has kept many people inside this winter. Of course the weather is really bad at the weekend and sometimes quite fine during the week when we are all at work.




Galanthus - The Snowdrop

At this time of the year the true snowdrops are flowering. This small plants should not be confused with the larger and more popular Snowflakes that flower later.

Galanthus are found in the wild throughout Europe and the Mediterranean. There are 20 species in the genus. They have been cultivated from many years and many species and forms provide an interesting display in the garden when there is nothing else in flower. They do best in cool climates.

Galanthus byzantinus from southern Europe is one of the best species. Its wide, long deep green leaves which set off the white, globular flowers held aloft on longer stems.

Galanthus caucasicus is quite desirable and flowers earlier than the others. It has large rounded white flowers

Galanthus elwesii is one of the best snowdrops. It produces several stems of white flowers with green markings on the petals.

Galanthus nivalis is the most common species and there are several cultivars. Single white flowers tipped with green are borne on the stems in early spring.

Galanthus plicatus has very large flowers with prominent green markings around the inner segments and it flowers later. 

Further reading
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Galanthus