As spring approaches we reflect on quite a harsh winter which has impacted adversely on some of our nursery plants. Four degree frosts have been a challenge for us and our more fragile plants. However we really have had a very fruitful winters planting and some 6500 plants have left our nursery and are in the ground at varied sites around Cambridge. Despite the cold we have had very pleasing attendances each Tuesday throughout the winter months and finding work for 24 to undertake has been a positive challenge for me.
There have been many projects for us to work on this winter and sunny Tuesdays have been common which means we have been able to undertake planting most weeks. In April we had a nursery that was full of well grown plants but our planting programme has been so successful that as we head into August we have large vacant areas within the nursery awaiting new young plants to grow on for 2016 winter planting.
Meadow Walk Stages 2 and 3 have absorbed many plants and we have had sessions of weed spraying, mulching and planting there throughout the winter so that project is looking exceptional at present and is a pleasure to walk through. We have another 2 or 3 days of planting there still to be done but by the end of August it will only require spray weeding and maintenance until April when planting will start again. The work of Jane and John Moodie who have driven this project in the last 3 years has been outstanding. Their passion, planning, knowledge and careful direction of planting operations has made this stretch of walkway between Alpers Ridge Rd and Fletcher Place a very rewarding addition to the tracks of Cambridge. The funding grants we received from the Waikato River Trust over the last three years for this project were a huge bonus. Try a walk through here sometime. There will be wildflowers in spring and the public Lions orchard there ensures snacks of fresh fruit can be picked in autumn.
The Lola Silcock Park is now in its fifth year and we continue to undertake maintenance and further infill planting there. The newly developed eastern end has a new loop track built through English trees that in autumn are a picture. Wild flowers, blue bells, spring flowering bulbs and summer flowering hibiscus add colour at various times of the year.
Annual grants from the George Marshall Trust and from the Silcock family allow us to continue to develop this area.
The biggest project which we have overseen this winter has been the replanting of the Lake Te Ko Utu car park bank where the at risk gum trees were removed for public safety. The Tree Trust were involved in burning trash and Bruce McComb became our resident fire safety officer. We provided the majority of the plants for this project and I undertook the weekend supervision of voluntary public labour to ensure the whole area was planted. On Saturday May 1 we started and with Waipa District Council help some 750 plants were laid out for planting. The public response on day one was excellent and by 11am all plants had found a home on the steep banks. Every Saturday for five weeks we had plants available for the public to get in the ground. The best Saturday we had 24 helpers and during the week I also had Correction Department teams assisting with the planting and mulch spreading. Some 3500 plants found a home here and it now over to the council to ensure that weeds don’t take over. Most of the area planted has been mulched so that should assist in weed suppression. We are very grateful to the Waipa District Council who supplied some plants, built a stairway and constructed new tracks so this has been added to the already iconic recreational opportunities of the lake and its surrounds. The new kauri loop track stairway and extension of the Camellia Walk is a challenging new loop for runners and walkers alike and is being well used. The extended car park has also been a useful and much needed addition by Waipa District Council.
Another exciting project is the Maple Arboretum which we are establishing with council support on the Brian Mayo Blackie Reserve. We received a grant from the Community Board for this project and with the assistance of Max Ward WDC Parks and Reserves an area was marked out, weed sprayed in April and in mid July some 44 maples have been planted, carefully staked and rabbit proofed and will soon be mulched. We hope to build on this start annually and in the future arborists will visit our town to view such areas. It is an exciting venture. The work of Jane Moodie, Jan Todd and their husbands who have been driving this project is acknowledged.
This winter we have had very useful added support to our planting progammes from young people with specialized sessions with schools like Goodwood and Leamington, the James Gray kindy, Brownies( Pippins) and Girl Guides. Being an Educational Trust is an important role we undertake with young people as it is vital to spread the message about preserving and enhancing our environment. Weekly we have special needs students from Cambridge High School help us and we had senior students from St Peters School assisting us with the Lake Te Ko Utu planting.
Financially we are in a very healthy state and grants so far this year have come from Rotary, Lions, Silcock family, George Marshall Trust, Hewitt Trust, the United church opportunity shop, HEB Construction to mention a few. Joan has been very successful in her grant applications and a number are still being lodged.
Over the next few months we are in the restocking phase of the year and we have developed an excellent system of plant regeneration to prepare plants for use next winter. Leslie Wood and her team have been very busy of late preparing cuttings and I counted 31 trays of cuttings in our shade house. Over the summer we have locally sourced and collected seeds. Joan has taken these home and planted them in her glass house and many trays of seedlings have now resulted and are currently being pricked out and repotted. As a trust we try to keep our plant costs down by such volunteer work. Using grant money we are currently purchasing many 100’s of root trainer plants which we are potting on in our nursery so vacant space in our nursery is rapidly being filled. Steve of Annton Nurseries has been an excellent supporter of our work and has been a major source of new plants. As has the Native Plant Nursery (Taupo). Planning for what plants we need for next year’s projects is a key spring task.
We are very grateful for the support we receive from the Parks and Reserves team of the Waipa District Council and they assist us with sound advice and equipment. . We have a positive partnership with them. Regular visits from Correction Department teams have also been a feature of this year and their assistance in spreading mulch, planting trees and weeding has helped us considerably to ensure that Cambridge remains the town of trees.
Don Willoughby, Chairman.