Lessons Learned from the Native Planting Masterclass

Just over 20 participants were engrossed in the discussion facilitated by David Tripp at his home in Longbush on Saturday 27th April 2024.  The expert panel included Trevor Thompson (QEII National Trust), Rachel Scanlan (Akura Nurseries), and Gemma Phillips (Pīwakawaka Native Plants).

The panel discussion covered many topics from keeping plants alive over summer, what natives to plant in difficult areas (clay, dry, full shade) to combating deer browse.

Some key takeaways:

  • Invite the nursery manager out to your patch or take photos to bring into the nursery.  They can best give advice if they see what you are trying to do.
  • Look at what natives are growing in your area.  They’re the ones that will also do well on your property.
  • Plan succession planting.  The big guys will not mature in your lifetime, so give them a chance to thrive by starting with grasses, sedges and shrubs that will.
  • Totara grow almost anywhere, and deer don’t like them.
  • Plant divaricating plants that are resistant to browse.  New Zealand natives that have evolved with the moa are great examples of this.
  • Plant trees closer together than you think you should and plant mixed species, so that the soil microorganisms specific to one species of tree will also benefit other species.
  • Plants need to photosynthesise to stay alive.  If you are dealing with creeping vines such as convulvulus, keep separating the above ground growth from the roots.  The plant will spend energy making new shoots.  Eventually this process will cause the roots to die.
  • Look at mātauranga Māori when considering rare and/or expensive plants.  For example, kahikatea like to be near each other as their roots form networks and they support each other by transferring nutrients and water to the tree that most needs it.
  • Be careful of sterile hybrids and (even worse) fertile hybrids.  Especially with plants such as ngaiao.

Wairarapa Pūkaha to Kawakawa thank David and Helen Tripp for their hospitality, the participants, and our panellists: Rachel Scanlan, Gemma Phillips, and Trevor Thompson for giving freely of their knowledge and time.