Exotic garden plants are a ‘ticking time bomb’

Some Exotic garden plants a ‘ticking time bomb’ according to Lincoln University’s professor Philip Hulme. He has been awarded the Hutton Medal for his work on how non-native plants, including garden ornamentals, become invasive weeds in New Zealand.

He says more needs to be done to keep track of introduced species before they spread, stifling native species. Listen to the full interview on Radio NZ at the following link.

https://www.rnz.co.nz/audio/player?audio_id=2018720781

If you want more info about which plants are considered weeds you can read The National Pest Plant Accord (NPPA) which is an agreement aimed to stop the sale and/or distribution of the specified pest plants. Both the formal and casual horticultural trade is considered the most significant way of spreading the pest plants in New Zealand. For more info about the specific pest plants that are being targeted there’s a list published at the following link.
https://www.mpi.govt.nz/dmsdocument/3664-national-pest-plant-accord-2012-manual

Two species of weeds that I regularly notice in Aucklands North Shore gardens and parks are:

Solanum mauritianum. Common name is woolly nightshade

Whoolley Nightshade
and Rhamnus alaternus common names are: rhamnus, evergreen buckthorn

Rhamnus alaternus

So if you’re planning to plant up your garden Weedbusters have published a free “Plant Me Instead” booklet that profiles the environmental weeds of greatest concern in your region. Suggestions are given for alternative locally sold non-weedy species. Here’s a link to the publication.

https://www.weedbusters.org.nz/site/assets/files/1085/plant_me_instead_bop.pdf

Clivia

Clivia

“Queen of the shade”.

Common name – Kaffir Lily

Clivia Gardening NZ

Here’s a Clivia cultivar more towards the red end of their colour range.

Origin

A native to southern Africa. They are members of the family Amaryllidaceae, subfamily Amaryllidoideae
Clivia miniata, is the most commonly cultivated species.

Flowering time –

Varies between species and cultivars. Typically C. miniata, C. nobilis and C. caulescens flower in late winter and spring. C. miniata can have flowers at almost any time. C. robusta and C. gardenii flower in the autumn. Interspecific hybrids and cultivars can flower at any time of the year depending on the local climate and the flowering habit of their parent species.

Uses –

If you’ve got a shady spot such as under trees or the shady side of the house and want a low growing ground cover (about 400mm {16 inches}) with red, orange or yellow flowers. This plant could be the solution for that shady spot under trees where other plants just die! They can also be grown in pots, but they don’t really like full sun though. Full sun will usually cause yellowing and burning of the leaves which then go brown and look unsightly and are a time consuming job to remove. They’re perennials so the clump will gradually get wider. One clump can easily cove more than 600mm (2 feet) in diameter. Either mixed in with other plants or as a stand alone mass planting. There aren’t many low growing hardy plants that will beat Clivia for hardiness.

Propagation –

Warning – Wear gloves when handling clivias, as they contain a small amount of alkaloids that can irritate the human skin.

They can easily be divided by prizing the roots apart with two full size forks inserted back to back and levered against each other. Or chop your way through the roots with a spade being careful to leave as much roots attached to the stem as possible.
The three images show two cultivars and one self seeded un-named cultivar. There are also variegated leaf varieties although they tend to revert to green leaves. There’s potential for enthusiasts to breed their own varieties from seed. The seed is quite large (about the size of a pea) and is produced after flowering inside a fleshy fruit. The fruit can be harvested. To sow scrape off the flesh and sown in the normal fashion in potting mix in a container in a warm shady position keeping the soil moist but not water logged. This will create your own unique un-named variety since with seed propagation you get a recombination of the parent genes! It’s possible to grow 20 or more plants per year from a single parent clump. The flower colour and size and leaf shape can vary between seedlings to add a bit of interest.

Clivia Yellow variety

Here’s a yellow cultivar of Clivia.

This Clivia is an un-named variety that I bred from a seedling.

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Kauri tree discovery stuns science world

Image courtesy of  Stuff.co.nz  https://www.stuff.co.nz/auckland/114534612/this-kauri-treestump-has-stunned-the-science-world-because-it-refused-to-die

New Zealand researchers have discovered Kauri trees can have a shared root system. AUT’s Dr Martin Bader and Associate Professor Sebastian Leuzinger were hiking in the bush and stumbled on a Kauri stump that was being kept alive by being connected to neighbouring trees trough it’s root system. This means we may have to consider a forest not as a collection of individual trees, but as a ‘super-organism“. This has implications for both the spread and control of Kauri die back disease. The disease caused by the organism Phytophthora agathidicida could theoretically spread through the roots from tree to tree. Also any control treatments such as injecting with phosphate could spread through a tree community reducing the cost of remedy treatments. Their paper is published in cell.com/iscience

This discovery reinforces what UBC Professor Suzanne Simard explains here –Trees communicate with each other!

Legionnaires Disease Health Warning

Legionnaires Disease Health Warning

New Zealand health authorities are warning gardeners to be aware that potting mix can cause a fatal disease called Legionnaires Disease if handled improperly.

The Legionnaires Disease warning comes after a coroner ruled that a Christchurch woman Margaret Valenski , who died on Boxing Day in 2011, was probably caused by Legionnaires Disease contracted after working with potting mix or compost. Canterbury medical officer of health Ramon Pink says “Enjoy your gardening by all means, but please make sure you avoid inhaling the dust from potting mix or compost as this can be dangerous.”

Legionnaires Disease is a type of pneumonia caused by bacteria. It is a potentially fatal, acute infectious respiratory process caused by any species of the aerobic bacteria belonging to the genus Legionella. It is not transmitted from one person to another person. The common transmission route for the disease is breathing in dust or water aerosols contaminated with the bacteria. Sources where temperatures allow the bacteria to thrive include cooling towers , hot-water tanks, and evaporative condensers of large air-conditioning systems, such as those commonly found in large office buildings and hotels.

The symptoms of Legionnaires Disease are a high fever, chills and a cough which may be dry or produce sputum. Some patients also have headache, muscle aches, tiredness, loss of appetite, loss of coordination (ataxia), and occasionally diarrhoea and vomiting. Impaired cognition and confusion and may also occur. So if you have these symptoms it’s best to go to see your doctor urgently.

In New Zealand in 2010 there were five related deaths and 136 hospitalisations caused by Legionnaires Disease related problems . There have been years where New Zealand has had seven or eight deaths. The death rates are normally higher if there has been no medical intervention.
The best ways to reduce the risk of infection with Legionnaires Disease for gardeners are to follow these steps when handling potting mix or compost:

  • Wear a respiratory face mask covering your mouth and nose.
  • Open potting bags gently using scissors rather than tearing them open, therefore increasing the air borne dust.
  • Work in a well ventilated outside area.
  • Dampen compost and soil with water to reduce air borne dust particles.
  • Wear gloves and thoroughly was hands after handling potting mix or doing gardening.

So anyone who has the symptoms listed above should see a GP urgently and tell them if they have been handling potting mix or compost recently.

Legionnaires Disease

Trees communicate with each other!

Trees communicate with each other.

Did you know that trees communicate with each other?

UBC Professor Suzanne Simard explains how trees are connected through their roots and can pass on nutrients to other plants of their species that need them. Watch this video for an explanation.

Seed Freedom

Seed Freedom
In New Zealand we need to defend our seed freedom from corporations that want to control our seeds for their profit at our expense. “At a time where mega corporations want to control our food, it is imperative that we stand together to protect our food, the planet and each other.” Vandana Shiva.

For more info go here –

http://www.navdanya.org/about-us/191-the-right-to-save-and-share-seeds-

The Rose of Jericho

The Rose of Jericho
Here’s an interesting time lapse video of the the Rose of Jericho.
The Rose of Jericho (Selaginella lepidophylla) is a species of moss that has adapted to the dessert environment. It has the amazing ability to ‘resurrect’ itself after periods of extreme dehydration lasting months or even years.
It just needs a few hours of exposure to moisture for the plant to sprout to life, unfurling from a small ball of dry leaves to an open green rosette.
This video is time- lapse taken by Videographer Sean Steininger after he exposed a number of plants to water.

Rose of Jericho from Sean Steininger

The One Straw Revolution by Masanobu Fukuoka

The One Straw Revolution by Masanobu Fukuoka

The One Straw Revolution by Masanobu Fukuoka
Masanobu Fukuoka was a very influential Japanese organic farmer who experimented and created his own practices that inspired many other organic growers that have advanced his principals.

If you are interested in organic growing The One Straw Revolution by Masanobu Fukuoka is one of the foundation books of the modern organic movement and well worth reading.

How Trees Get Water To Their Top Leaves

How Trees Get Water To Their Top Leaves

Ever wondered how a tree can get water tens of metres up to it’s top leaves? Well here’s the answer!

“Trees create immense negative pressures of 10’s of atmospheres by evaporating water from nanoscale pores, sucking water up 100m in a state where it should be boiling but can’t, because the perfect xylem tubes contain no air bubbles, just so that most of it can evaporate in the process of absorbing a couple molecules of carbon dioxide. Now I didn’t mention the cohesion of water (that it sticks to itself well) but this is implicit in the description of negative pressure, strong surface tension etc”.

Time Lapse Red Rose Blooming

Time Lapse Red Rose Blooming

Time Lapse Red Rose Blooming. 1:33
This time lapse video emphasises the beauty and majesty of a blooming rose in a way that’s difficult to notice normally in a garden.