Tag Archives: tui

Tikorangi Notes: Friday July 6, 2012

Our maunga, Mount Taranaki

Our maunga, Mount Taranaki

The tui are back

The tui are back

Latest posts: Friday July 6, 2012

1) Fragrant rhododendrons – the final feature article I have written for the Weekend Gardener. So you only want scented plants in the garden? There are fragrant rhododendrons to choose from.

2) The understated elegance of Helleborus orientalis in Plant Collector this week.

3) Reviewing the role of container plants. Do they add anything to the garden other than work?

4) Grow it yourself – celery. We don’t because Mark won’t, so I buy it but you can if you wish. The word from Mark is that it is not that easy to grow well and the one year he got it absolutely right, we only hate about two complete heads of celery and the rest went to waste.

5) In the Garden this fortnight. The final in this series I wrote for Weekend Gardener. It’s on gloriosas this week.

6) Outdoor Classroom revisited – sharpening garden tools. Everybody says do it but nobody says how.

Tikorangi Notes: Friday July 6, 2012

As you may gather from above, I have resigned as a contributor to the Weekend Gardener so the pieces first published there will cease after today. But do not let that stop you – please take the time to fill out their survey and let them know what you think of the changes they have made with their new management.

The three new posts a week from the Waikato Times will continue uninterrupted. Though if anyone has any ideas for replacing Grow Your Own, I would appreciate hearing. There are a finite number of vegetables and I am nearing the end of all available options, even allowing for extensions into some herbs and soft fruits.

In the meantime, great winter weather has seen plenty of sun, mild days (15 degrees yesterday) and very little wind. The mountain has a good covering of snow and is looking its most spectacular. More camellias are opening flowers and the tui and kereru are here in good numbers. It won’t be long before the magnolia season starts.

Plant Collector – Prunus campanulata

It took many attempts to capture the tui in the campanulata cherry

It took many attempts to capture the tui in the campanulata cherry

The cherry trees which have been in flower in recent weeks are the campanulata or Taiwanese cherries. Sometimes you will still see them referred to as Formosan cherries which may require a lesson in history for anybody under the age of about 60. True, the colours can be a little harsh in carmine pink, cerise and sugar-candy pink tones but on a bleak early spring day, who is going to quibble about the mass of flowers which appear on bare branches? The biggest bonus of the campanulatas is their attraction to tui who feed on the nectar. Our native birds are wonderfully unconcerned about whether or not their food sources are indigenous plants. We can have upwards of 30 tui bickering and squabbling for territory in a single tree, but they don’t stay still long enough to count accurately.

Campanulata cherries are not as hardy as the later flowering Japanese types but this is rarely a problem except in the coldest parts of the country. They are also more disease resistant and healthier in our climate and don’t succumb to the dreaded witches broom which can be a problem in other types. If you plant several (and being a tree of light stature, they are easy to fit in alongside other trees), you can have them flowering in succession over many weeks which keeps the tui at home. The big disadvantage is that many forms set seed freely and germinate readily. They are such a problem that they are on the banned list in Northland unless it is a known sterile form which doesn’t set seed. If you border native bush or a national park, make sure you search out forms advertised as sterile but otherwise you just have to be vigilant with your weeding.

(first published in the Waikato Times and reproduced here with their permission)

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.