Withy rod har­vesters re­quired

The Tribune (NZ) - - CONVERSATIONS - JIM RICHARDS, RE­ACT

With the weather vane now in­di­cat­ing chilly south­east­er­lies, Rangi­wahia’s wil­low cop­pice beds show the ef­fects of weather pat­terns over the last six months.

In the same way tree rings or ice cores record cli­mate his­tory, wil­low with­ies re­flect in small scale, the cli­matic va­garies of last sum­mer.

This year’s wil­low growth has been the slow­est since the beds were es­tab­lished in 2007, re­sult­ing in the dra­mat­i­cally re­duced length in most of our ossiers.

In pre­vi­ous years, the beds have re­quired ir­ri­ga­tion to aid growth dur­ing pro­longed dry spells.

On one no­table dry year, the ap­pli­ca­tion of wa­ter by a fire ap­pli­ance dur­ing a prac­tice night, re­sulted in a marked growth spurt, which put a kink in all the rods.

This year there has been no lack of wa­ter, how­ever, the lack of sun and warmth has not been so easy to make up for.

Even the leaves have held on for much longer, per­haps hop­ing to fin­ish their growth cy­cle, but frosts have put an end to that en­deav­our.

It means RE­ACT (the Rangi­wahia En­vi­ron­men­tal Arts Cen­tre Trust) will have much shorter wil­low rods to cre­ate with in the com­ing year.

Now at har­vest time, the wil­low stands are mostly bare await­ing har­vest.

Wil­low with­ies can be har­vested any time from leaf drop to bud for­ma­tion, giv­ing a cou­ple of months win­dow to se­cure these fram­ing re­sources for projects that range from the an­nual lantern pa­rade at the Palmer­ston North Fes­ti­val of Cul­tures, to mak­ing Big Girls pup­pets for the In­ter­na­tional Women’s Day pa­rade.

RE­ACT is cur­rently work­ing to­ward plant­ing a liv­ing tun­nel for the Es­planade Scenic Rail­way, and selection of the two year rods and the in­fill year rods will be a pri­or­ity.

Let’s hope the weather vane swings back, giv­ing us a few warmer days to al­low the gath­er­ing of the wil­low wands.

An in­vi­ta­tion aboard our next RE­ACT bus trip on Sun­day, June 18, will show how it is done, and in­clude a short trek in the nearby scenic re­serve.

This is a free bus, thanks to PNCET and more de­tails can be found on Eventfinda or our web­site rang­ien­vi­roarts­cen­tre.org/whats-new.html

Jim Richards and Brid­get Mur­phy in amongst the wil­low with­ies, with dog Marvin

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