Growing local: take a leaf from New Zealand books

"Growing gardens for free" book coverI have a tiny, tiny garden, most of which is devoted to growing food. However, when we bought our small property, I was determined to have some native plantings as well. Now, nearly five years later, home-grown cabbage trees, pittosporum, kowhai and flaxes fill a corner too shady for vege, and we’ve squeezed a line of corokia in alongside the drive, thanks to the advice of Trees for Canterbury. I was struck (sorry for the pun) by how easy it is to grow many native plants, either from seed or from cuttings, and Growing gardens for free by New Zealand author Geoff Bryant is now my propagation bible.

A healthy population of insects now make their undisturbed homes in my microscopic little patch of native bush and last year, for the first time since I moved in, I saw waxeyes and fantails. (At first all I encountered in the initially lawn-filled garden were sparrows and blackbirds.) It’s such a little planting but I was amazed by how quickly even this had a noticeable effect on my garden’s ecology. Imagine if we all just planted a little corner of natives: we could create a green corridor for so many creatures across out garden city. If you’re keen and seeking like minds, there are many individuals and organisations working towards greening Christchurch/Otautahi, and you can find out about them on CINCH, our community information database.

The library has many good books on planting native plants in your garden – why not celebrate New Zealand book month by leafing (sorry again!) through a few?

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