19 native trees for coastal shelter Don’t plant these
Whether they’re native or exotic, these trees can protect your fruit and nut crops by withstanding just about everything nature can throw at them. The ultimate best coastal shelter is provided by New Zealand native plants which have adapted to the salt wi
The South Island’s West Coast gets a lot of rain - up to 6m annually - but it also gets searing dry winds most afternoons, and especially in the warmer months of January and February. Without plants that resist the drying effect of these winds, it would be impossible to grow an orchard.
Surprisingly it isn’t the huge rainfall that limits what we can grow here: it’s the drying afternoon sea breeze. Most of my original orchard survives thanks to one single huge spreading Portuguese laurel tree ( Prunus laurocerasus). Its waxy broad leaves resist salt spray, and its fast growth can outpace the drying of leaves in the harsh wind.
It has long been a popular shelter tree in the UK where they’re grown as hedges along garden boundaries, and that’s probably what mine once was perhaps a hundred years ago. Now it has tipped over and grows sideways like a very large shady bush, providing a leeward calm to the north-east, and a sleeping perch for the chickens. Tucked in behind it is my apple and pear orchard.
Over the years I have added to this shelter-belt to warm up my whole section and protect the soft growth of the fruit trees.
There have been lots of trials and many errors but diversity is the key. The more different species you try, the more likely it is that some of them will succeed, and the gaps of the failures can be plugged by planting more of the surviving varieties.
• Chatham Island ake ake,
Olearia traversii • karo, Pittosporum crassifolium/ Pittosporum ralphii • karamu, Coprosma robusta • Coprosma lucida • mingimingi, Coprosma propinqua • ponga, Dicksonia spp • ngaio, Myoporum laetum toxic but also insect-repelling) • kanuka, Kunzea ericioides • Coprosma repens • Griselinia littoralis • Pseudopanax species, notably Pseudopanax laetus (broad shiny leaves) and Pseudopanax arboreus