Ar­bor Day puts fo­cus on trees

The Leader (Tasman) - - GARDENING - ROBERT GUYTON


This is Ar­bor Week (ac­tual day June 5) so se­cure a tree (or three) and find some­where to plant them in readi­ness for the day of the year that’s ear­marked for in­creas­ing the planet’s for­est cover. Your con­tri­bu­tion may seem mi­nor, but a tree is a tree and they grow like weeds once they get their roots into the ground. If your own gar­den is al­ready filled to ca­pac­ity with trees and shrubs, look around for bare spots in the gar­dens of your friends. They’ll most likely thank you for pro­vid­ing them with some­thing to plant and will want to pitch in with some dig­ging on the day.

If your friends are not so in­clined and pre­fer con­crete to twig and leaf, find some new friends! I’m jok­ing; don’t give up on them just be­cause they don’t un­der­stand the im­por­tance of trees to the en­vi­ron­ment and ev­ery liv­ing crea­ture therein. Per­haps there’s a va­cant stretch of coun­cil land that would ben­e­fit from some trees. Ask around and see if there’s sup­port for some com­mu­nity en­hance­ment plant­ing. Ar­bor Day’s the ideal one for pro­mot­ing tree plant­ing.


Spades with a small head are best for dig­ging holes the size a young tree needs. Large, heavy spades are a dis­in­cen­tive for peo­ple who aren’t swing­ing on them ev­ery day and Ar­bor Day is the best shot a keen tree planter will get to bring oth­ers on board with start­ing a new for­est. A tool that is sharp, clean and light will be a plea­sure to use, slic­ing through the soil like a hot knife through but­ter, rather than drag­ging an an­chor through a sea of tof­fee, which is what a heavy, large­headed spade can feel like, es­pe­cially when the soil is wet. Choos­ing a dry­ish spot for plant­ing can help also and check­ing the pro­posed plant­ing site a few days ear­lier and lay­ing a wa­ter­proof sack down, can mean that any rain that falls be­fore plant­ing day, won’t clog things up.


If you haven’t grown your own and have to buy a tree for this day of plant­ing fun, en­sure you choose one that suits the plant­ing site. If you’re in South­land, as I am, buy­ing a lemon tree to plant is not es­pe­cially wise, given their habit of dy­ing from cold win­ter con­di­tions. Go na­tive, if that’s your pref­er­ence, and grow some­thing sourced from your own re­gion.

At this time of the year, there are plenty of wineberry trees (mako­mako) for sale in the nurs­eries, along with manuka and lemon­wood (tarata), all of which grow well when planted on Ar­bor Day, falling as it does, right at the end of au­tumn.


It’s still a lit­tle early to plant bare­rooted fruit trees but if you’re de­ter­mined to make fruit the core of your for­est, pre­pare the plant­ing hole now then wait pa­tiently for the sales that of­ten come in Au­gust. A good hole back-filled with qual­ity com­post and some slow-re­lease fer­tiliser will give a fruit tree a great start to life and make the later plant­ing a breeze at a time when win­ter may have soft­ened your dig­ging mus­cles. When it’s time to plant your tree, wa­ter it, back­fill the hole and ham­mer in two sturdy stakes, one on ei­ther side. Tie the tree to the stakes with flex­i­ble ties that al­low a lit­tle give.


If you’re look­ing for in­spi­ra­tion on trees with glo­ri­ous au­tumn colour, now is a good time to take a stroll (with cam­era and notebook) around your lo­cal park, botanic gar­den, or – if you live near Gis­borne – the iconic This col­umn is adapted from the weekly e-zine, get grow­ing, from New Zealand Gar­dener magazine. For gar­den­ing ad­vice de­liv­ered to your in­box ev­ery Fri­day, sign up for Get Grow­ing at: get­grow­ East­wood­hill Abore­tum

(www.east­wood­ with its col­lec­tion of na­tive and ex­otic trees. Take note of spec­i­mens that take your fancy and if pos­si­ble, pick the brains of the gar­dens’ cu­ra­tor about the con­di­tions they need as well as how tall they grow plus any­thing else you need to know. They are a mine­field of ex­pert in­for­ma­tion.

Robert’s wife Robyn over­sees plant­ing a grafted ap­ple tree.

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