|When the Monarch Butterfly NZ Trust wanted to give a gift of plants, locally sourced from Rarangi Beach, east of Blenheim, they came to Oratia. Not only could we provide an eco-sourced species, it was also a plant which had since disappeared from the region!
This is the Trust's story.
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- Why planting in summer ain't no bad thing
But first, the holiday!
Botanising again. Is there any other kind of holiday for nurserymen and conservationists?
Leaving the staff to hold the fort after the New Year period, we (that is, Bev and Geoff Davidson) headed off to Central Otago with the Auckland Botanical Society. This coincided with a cold snap. Photos show us grovelling on the Old Man Range in search of minute alpines, dressed for the Antarctic. And our trek to Lake Alta, above the Remarkables Ski Field, was through snow. But oh, the delights, as photos new to the website will show.
The Hollyford Track was next, a wonderful experience, with our companions extolling the beauty of the NZ bush. But it is heartbreaking to realise that what we should be asking is "What is not growing here?" Ferns under a canopy of magnificent old trees look spectacular, but Blechnum discolor (Crown Fern) and Coprosma foetidissima (stinkwood) predominate because deer find them unpalatable. Nowhere in the under-storey are the seedlings and small shrubs needed for the survival of our forests. What we were looking at was a forest in terminal decline. And now they want to put a major road through it, with all the devastation that will bring! More people will be able to see even less! (See the NZ Herald's Highway Through Heritage article.)
Even in Doubtful Sound, evidence of deer damage was apparent where heavily browsed bush had succumbed to erosion. Only the most inaccessible areas were unscathed.
Why planting in summer ain't no bad thing
Plants like it warm. Water them, and they'll think they're in the tropics.
In the old days when trees came bare-rooted, it made good sense to minimise the shock to their systems by avoiding planting in summer. Plants in pots are a different matter, with roots well-developed and eager to expand into a nicely-prepared hole.
As long as you do not allow your new plantings to dry out, they will thrive in warm weather. Unless they are Brachyglottis, they will probably even enjoy Auckland's humidity!
Some of you will be familiar with the fernery in the retail area. This enables us to display shade-loving plants, but a visit to the main fernery in the far corner of the nursery is always well worthwhile to appreciate the expanding range of ferns available. While all our staff are happy to help you, Barb, our fern specialist, is generally with us on Monday, Wednesday and Friday for those with curlier questions.
We currently have excellent stock of 4 Lastreopsis species, including the rare and beautiful Lastreopsis velutina with its soft, velvet feel. There are also good quantities of Asplenium bulbiferum x lamprophyllum and Blechnum fluviatile. These are well worth checking out.
Bulk plant opportunities
Take advantage of a cancelled order. Great stock of Coprosma acerosa is now available. This species is becoming rare in its natural habitat, but see how grateful it is to be propagated and saved from extinction. A hardy groundcover, it has been eco-sourced from several areas which show clear variations one from another.
Do you need bulk flax? We have overgrown Phormium cookianum root-trainers, no longer pretty, but with plenty of potential still - prices negotiable.
What you might not know about our website
Our website, http://www.oratianatives.co.nz, gets a lot of traffic these days, but many people are not aware of its full value to them as a research tool.
To find information about a plant, you can type in a botanical name, Maori name or common name, even with imperfect spelling (which is fortunate for those searching for Corynocarpus laevigatus!) Once your chosen plant pops up, you can click on the blue headings to find out about plant availability and more detailed information.
To find plants that have particular attributes or will grow in specific conditions, you can fill in the appropriate qualities in the 'attribute boxes'.
If a plant is not available this will be indicated on the website. The website is updated from the nursery database every 2 hours but exact quantities are not given as we prefer to check plant maturity in person - and that sudden death by rabbit has not occurred overnight!
For more detailed instructions on getting the most out of our website, read the cheat sheet we've created at http://www.oratianatives.co.nz/search.
Finally, congratulations to Andrew Hodgson, whose most elegant Polystichum richardii photo is currently gracing the front page of our website. Remember, if you've got a plant photo you'd like to share, upload it to the website. If it gets selected to go on our front page, we'll send you a $60 gift voucher!
Wholesale customers online
By default, all prices on our website are retail prices and include GST. However, landscapers who qualify for wholesale rates and have an approved trade account with us can create a login for the website which will give access to wholesale prices. Simply complete all the details requested, including your company details. We will then switch your online account to wholesale pricing. Allow 24 hours for this to be done.
With computer-based information accessible to most people these days, and with so many species available, we no longer post out trade lists, which often become outdated almost before they arrive. Instead, plants that are plentiful, looking great, new or worthy of consideration for any reason will be noted in our Updates.
These proved popular with plant-lovers at Christmas, but as several people pointed out, giving them to someone who would be away over January was like the gift of a pet!
Consider these for birthdays and special occasions. These packs contain specially-grown plants, so ordering well in advance will help ensure the plants you want are available. While the selections offered on our website are ones we attempt to keep ready at all times, occasionally substitutions will need to be made. Conversely, special one-off requests may be possible depending on plant availability and timing.
For more information, go to http://www.oratianatives.co.nz/giftpacks
While things have improved a little (dangerous words), we are still experiencing periodic problems with our phone system. The high-tech solution that served us well for a several years is no longer being provided and there is no similar replacement that works in our area. In addition, the conventional copper wire solution is also unreliable, Oratia being literally 'at the end of the line' and on 'an old exchange'. We consider ourselves lucky to be able to access broadband - neighbours further up the road don't have the pleasure despite their splendid views of the city!
We apologize for the inconvenience this causes and hope that you will leave a message or send an email should you be unable to contact us by phone. We are continuing to search for better solutions.
We look forward to being able to provide you with great plants and great service well into the future.