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Over the summer months we have continued to be busy and it has been surprising the number who have turned up each Tuesday to undertake a few hours of volunteer work. To have 27 volunteers arrive on a February hot summer’s day provided me with a challenge in terms of what jobs to allocate and what locations to concentrate on.

Weed maintenance on our various project areas has been the main challenge and with regular rainfall bursts during spring and early summer the weed growth has been alarming.

Hence weekly teams have been sent out on weeding assignment; a necessary but boring task and more selective than spraying. Neville Hollands has taken on caring for the Oak Arboretum. He has Waipa District Council approval for this task with weekly assistance from Tree Trust volunteers and he weeds, prunes and gathers up broken branches and keeps this whole area looking ship shape. Brian “Blackie” Mayo would be delighted that the Tree Trust 2003 planting of oaks there that he worked so hard for is today a very well used recreational park that looks a picture. The Oak Arboretum site for the Armistice Day sculpture which is being prepared for November next year was blessed on February 10 when 30 Le Quesnoy visitors were present. It was a cultural highlight with local iwi, French and local residents sharing a mix of languages.

Our first Tuesday of this year saw a dozen volunteers work in summer rain and dig in 22 naming posts here. John Moodie had prepared the tanalised posts and Jane had worked with WDC arborist Chris Brocklebank to correctly name each group of oaks. We thank the Cambridge Community Board for their grant to cover our costs in this naming process.

Nursery work has also continued through the summer but keeping on top of weeds in our potted plants and ensuring that the irrigation system is functioning correctly has proved a challenge. Mike Shortt has proved to be a treasure in meeting weekly spray irrigation problems and the whole system may need to be revamped before next summer. Currently it is under review. Leslie Wood beavers away each week on preparing cuttings while Joan and a small team handle seed collection, germination and repotting seedlings. The result is the nursery is in tidy shape apart from weed growth and is full so that in excess of 10,000 potted plants will need to find a home around Cambridge this winter. As our public profile has grown we are also receiving many free seedlings from members of the public and we often arrive at the nursery to find trays and pots of small native plants that have been donated sitting at our nursery door.

Jan and Eric Todd haven taken on the task of overseeing Blackie’s Bank at Lake Te Ko Utu and Lola Silcock Park. Weeding blitzs at the latter have been needed and gradually convolvulus and other weeds have been brought under control. Hand weeding is needed at first and then follow up with spot spraying. Both these project areas are starting to look great through the direction of the Todds. A further project being progressed is the creation of a bog garden on the wet shady NE margins of the lake. There was quite a large planting of bog plants there last winter and our nursery has many plants currently being grown on prior to another large planting there at this location in the upcoming winter.

Jane and John Moodie’s work on the Maple Arboretum is also outstanding and Waipa District Council support us in the expansion of this area in 2017 into stage 3 is currently being planned with the intended new planting area sprayed and maples ordered ready for planting in July. An order for 60 more maples has been placed with Appletons, a quote asked for and then a grant application will be made for this work. Mower damage has become an issue with our maples and this has been pointed out to Council.

The.Meadow Walk is also being overseen by the Moodies. In November we had a brief visit from our local MP Louise Upston, and one of the areas I took her to was the Meadow Walk where we had a large team weeding and she couldn’t believe the number of volunteers that kept popping out of the five year old plantings on Meadow Walk 1 with large armfuls of weeds. A letter was received from her thanking us for the work we do on improving the local landscape by our planting.

We had a site meeting at what we call Meadow Walk 5 with Max Ward and other WDC staff to plan ahead to plant quite a large wetland area of grazed reserve land with swamp plants so that the quality of the runoff from here into the Waikato River is improved. Cattle-grazing here would have to cease. We await WDC action on this project which will involve fence removal, tractor slashing, spraying and planting and possibly a loop track constructed. There will be 3-4 years work here and should become one of our major planting areas for the next few winters.

Our work at Resthaven is an ongoing task and an important meeting was held late February to plan progress on opening up the Moon Spring Creek walkway. With the agreement of Rotary, Lions, Riding for the Disabled. Waipa Disrict Council, David Wallace and the Tree Trust it is planned to open up access to the Moon Spring and create a new walking track which will eventually link to the Te Awa track. It will be an historic addition to the recreational opportunities for Cambridge residents. The Moon Spring in 1908 was developed as the main source of Cambridge water and was pumped up to the water tower beside Resthaven. Newspapers in the twenties advertised the Moon Spring tracks as a tourist attraction and evidence of these tracks is still present among the regenerating native forest below Resthaven. We will be involved in providing and planting trees as an extension of our work there last year. The name comes from the local farmer who owned the land.

The development of a bluebell dell in Ann’s Patch continues under the care of Roger Dean and his team and a further 1000 bluebell bulbs were planted there in early March. The access track from behind Wrackrow’s joinery has been improved and it will be worth a walk to see the bluebell display there in spring. Access is now along the fence edging Wackrow's property, and they have put up a sign indicating the access point.

Payne Park was an area where the Tree Trust, under Blackie in the early 2000’s, planted trees, daffodil bulbs and erected stock-proof surrounds. It has been deleted from grazing and this reserve land is now being mowed as a park and is looking splendid. A large eucalypt has been removed and mulched and with Corrections Department help, most of the trees here are mulched. A team last week planted over 2000 daffodil bulbs there close to the main road and next month even more special bulbs will be planted there so that in spring there will be a great flower display to greet visitors to our town. Shortly there will be an extension built of the Sarah Ulmer exercise tracks cutting through this park and there is further potential for tree planting in the southern section. Our grant for “trees for birds and bees” which resulted an influx of young trees into our nursery can hopefully be planted in Payne Park and add further colour and interest to our town landscape.

There are many other small areas around town where we will undertake planting like Riverview but the maintenance of these new areas is a challenge that will need to be discussed with Council. As the Lakewood project is developed we will need to watch closely what is going to happen to the Camellia Walk overlooking the lake. There is potential to work alongside the developer to ensure further beautification takes place in this area.

There is no doubt the winter of 2017 will be a very busy one for us all.


Don Willoughby



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