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by Lyle Griffiths

June 18th and despite the rather cloudy day and the threat of light misty rain, 35 Martinborough residents turned out to transform the corner of Hinakura and Todds Road behind the fence on the golf course.

When the pine trees were removed last year, the bare patch was obvious. Now, thanks to Jane Lenting and the South Wairarapa Biodiversity Group, neighbours from Weld St, Book Club members, Golf Club members, Council and Business Association members, planting began.

Starting at 9.30, holes were dug. Jane gave clear instructions on how to plant; the size of the holes, the sprinkling of a half teaspoon of crystals to retain water during dry periods, the placing and securing of the woollen weed protectors, the addition of compost, the placing of plastic sleeves over the plant to limit damage from hares and the wind, and finally, mulch around the base of the trees.

All species planted are native to the Wairarapa; Coprosmas, Plagianthus, Flax, Pittosporum, Lancewood, Kowhai, White Maire, Matipo and Muehlenbeckia.

At 11.00am a growing swell of chatter and excitement emanated from Todds Road and suddenly 50 children from Martinborough School swarmed onto the grass. Gumbooted and clad in rain gear with shovels and trowels in hand, they were more than ready to start. Teachers, Mums and Dads were there as support crew.

Jane showed them all the correct procedure for planting and away they went digging the holes, sprinkling the water retention crystals, adding the compost and carefully planting their plants.

By 12.00 pm 330 plants were safely in the ground. Tantalising smells indicated that the sausages were ready. There was no hesitation. An ample reward for their hard work.

What is so heartening is to hear children say they will definitely be coming back to see how their trees have grown. What could be better than that?

Thanks to Greater Wellington Regional Council for funding the purchase of plants, P&K Martinborough for providing the BBQ trailer and South Wairarapa District Council and the Martinborough Golf Club for allowing the site to be planted.

Learn more about the South Wairarapa Biodiversity Group at www.swbg.weebly.com and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/SthWaiBio. Get in touch at swbg@xtra.co.nz.

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