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Unfortunately, Oratia Native Plant Nursery has now closed down. For further information, click here.

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Wetland plants
Did you know wetland plants make excellent water filters? If you need to clean up stormwater runoff, or provide a buffer against flooding, give us a call.
Winter 2008

What's News?

Spring Seminar Series

The mid-winter weather might be nice for plants, but those who have to produce them or plant them are, no doubt, looking forward to spring.

To help you with planting ideas we have 3 new seminars planned:

Planting in confined spaces - Tuesday, 26 August, at 4.30 pm.
Groundcovers - Tuesday, 23 September, at 4.30 pm.
Grasses - Tuesday, 21 October, at 4.30 pm.

» Click here for more details.

Bonsai Workshop
John Lyall will be joining us again for a bonsai workshop, this time using rata, muehlenbeckia and corokia.
Saturday 23 August, 2 - 4 pm.

» Click here for more details.

Sustainability and diversity - or survival of the leanest?
The concept of environmental sustainability is now part of mainstream thinking. In these uncertain economic times the sustainability of businesses also needs to be considered.

The nursery industry has long been recognised as one in which the rewards involve personal satisfaction rather than wealth. But alarm bells should be ringing.

A year or two ago, Di Lucas, then President of the NZ Institute of Landscape Architects, analysed the costings of plants for a number of tenders, and it was obvious to her that the prices being put forward to win the tenders were totally unsustainable in the long term. She warned Christchurch members they faced the prospect of being unable to source a satisfactory range of quality plants if current trends continued. Sadly, her prediction is proving to have been an accurate one.

When tender prices plunged about 15 years ago, it was not because the industry had suddenly become more efficient. The winning tenderers inevitably achieved their results with claims the required plants were ‘unavailable', and by substituting smaller grades than those specified. Unfortunately, their prices became established as the benchmark despite clear failures in the provision of specified material. More recently, low prices being tendered reflect industry-wide desperation rather than sustainable price levels.

Despite huge rises in the cost of labour, materials and transport, we find ourselves unable to charge much more for a plant than we did 20 years ago.

Future plant prices cannot continue at this low level without risking the viability of the industry. And the last man standing may well be doing so because he has reduced his product range to the 100 most saleable species.

It saddens us to see an alarming number of nurseries being forced to close.

Similar sentiments, noting the demise of the specialist mail order nurseries, were published by Abbie Jury of Tikorangi on the Jury Garden website April 25 2007.

It is to be hoped that those who value having access to a wide range of quality plants take into account the impact their current buying choices have on their future supply.


Survival of the most beautiful - and the ugly?

Many claim our most beautiful native plant is the kakabeak (Clianthus puniceus or Clianthus maximus). Yet a recent count suggests there are only about 150 plants left in the wild, down from 1-2,000 a couple of years ago. And there are plenty of other endangered species less aesthetically pleasing.

Three of our staff attended the NZPCN conference in Wellington to assist the fight to save our ever-increasing number of species facing an ever-increasing number of threats.

Talking is not sufficient. Specifying these threatened species in planting plans is one way we can ensure their survival - and even the ugly need your help.

For a list of these threatened species refer to the NZPCN website at:



Despite the gloom of the economic headlines and environmental threats, spring still follows the darkness of winter. Outside my window the kakabeak is magnificent and the tui in it is a happy bird.

Plants still have the power to lift the spirits.
Let's plant lots of them this spring!