Tikorangi notes: Friday August 20, 2010

Nectar-feeding tui in a Prunus campanulata

Nectar-feeding tui in a Prunus campanulata

LATEST POSTS:
1) Breeding woody trees and shrubs like magnolias and camellias is a long term commitment over many years, so it was an absolute revelation to Mark in the mid nineties to be taken to visit hellebore breeder, Robin White, to see just how far and how fast you could get with a whole new type – the double hellebores.
2) In the garden – our hints for garden tasks this week and more on the topic of killing moss with washing powder.
3) Grow It Yourself Vegetables, by Andrew Steen. At last, a new book in this country where the author is actually writing from more than just one year of experience in growing vegetables. Enough from ingénues and novices – we would rather learn from people who actually know what they are writing about and have extensive background experience.
4) Planting an easy-care hanging basket using succulents was certainly not part of our own repertoire of experience, but neighbour Chris (wife of our garden right hand man, Lloyd) was keen to demonstrate how simple it is in the latest Outdoor Classroom.

Campanulata for the tui

Campanulata for the tui

TIKORANGI NOTES:
One of the unspoken conventions of garden one-upmanship in this country is how many tui you can boast of in your garden, particularly in spring. The tui (one tui, two tui – the plural does not have an s added) are native nectar feeding birds distinguished by the white tuft of feathers at the throat (along with a disconcerting ability to mimic other sounds). At this time of the year, we can number ours in scores as they move back from wherever their winter feeding grounds are to feast, particularly on the campanulata cherries and the single camellias. Being a territorial bird, they will bicker and squabble over prime spots and indeed over ownership of an entire tree. While I was out with the camera looking at this tree, the big, bully senior tui flew in and gave very short shift to the dozen or fifteen already ensconced. They were not going to argue the point and moved on quickly. No matter where we look at this time of the year, we see them feeding in the garden – tui will come if there is plenty for them to feed from but in order to keep them around, you need a succession of nectar producing plants.

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