Tikorangi notes: April 16, 2010

Latest posts:
1) April 16, 2010 There are times we have regretted letting our purple bougainvillea reach its natural massive proportions but it is a splendid sight in flower.
2) April 16, 2010 There are no like for like replacements for the ever handy (if a little dull and clichéd) buxus hedge.3) April 16, 2010 Making the most of mild autumn conditions in the garden – what to do in the Taranaki garden this week.

Our venerable old man pines against the blue sky of autumn

The common reaction from New Zealanders to our massive, but elderly pine trees is that we should be taking them out immediately because they are dangerous but we are fond of their scruffy majesty on our south eastern skyline. Planted in a double row around 1880 by Mark’s great grandfather, they were originally a shelter belt and will rank amongst the oldest specimens in the country. Californians are often impressed because these Monterey pines tower around 50 metres or over 150 feet high which we are told is unusual for their homeland on the Monterey Peninsula.

Our Monterey pines - not all are exactly at right angles to the ground

But to New Zealanders, they are just crusty old Pinus radiata, a cultivar the timber industry has made our own as a very quick turn around, low grade timber crop covering vast acreages.

Occasionally we lose a pine tree – running about once every fifteen years at the moment – and the last one dropped itself in the one clear space that we would have chosen had we deliberately felled it, doing minimal damage as it crashed down but gouging out a 30cm deep indentation on the ground. Because they started life as a shelter belt and are planted in more or less straight rows, they now give us a woodland avenue below to grow frost tender material such as vireya rhododendrons, cymbidium orchids, monstera delicosa and a range of woodland bulbs. Such is their location, they would have to removed by logging helicopter but we are happy to live with them as a characterful backdrop.