Growing green. Eco-sourcing for optimal results

Text by Fiona Hoyle. Images provided by Kauri Park

Kauri Park is New Zealand’s largest native plant nursery with a site north of Auckland and another in Palmerston North.

Kauri Park produced a total of 7 million plants in 2015; this increased to 10 million in 2016. These plants are used mainly in commercial landscape projects, riparian plantings, subdivision planting, wetlands, and Manuka forestry.

“We understand the importance of using high quality plants in landscaping projects — plants that can easily acclimatize to the new conditions, plants that will result in high success rates,” says Kauri Park director Phil Wearmouth. “High quality plants can decrease the overall cost of the project and take less time to achieve the desired outcome.”

Plants not only need to look great when they are planted, but have the right fiber and qualities to continue their growing pattern once in the ground. Kauri Park mixes a blend of seven additional ingredients into the soil at the time of production to improve the quality of the plant. These ingredients include a mixture of fertilizers — some are a quick-release and give the plants an initial boost, while others are slow-releasing and help continue the plant growth once out of the nursery and into the landscape. Kauri Park uses a unique tray system (of their own design) to help facilitate healthy growth post-planting. The individual plastic cells have grooves running lengthways, which prevent the plant roots from growing in a circular motion as they may do in a planter bag or a round pot. When the plants are pulled out of the trays, the roots are freed. This helps minimize transplanting shock and maximizes successful establishment post-planting.

The cleverly designed tray also minimizes handling of the tops of the plants pre-planting. Both at the nursery and onsite, bulk numbers can be transported easily by holding the trays and not the foliage. This means there is no damage to the plants prior to planting.

Both Kauri Park nursery sites are exposed to almost constant winds, subjecting the plants to a tough environment before they are shipped to market. It is an ideal growing situation and a key factor in assisting with adaptation after transplanting, and to promoting long-term hardiness and health.

“As a long-established nursery, we value the relationship between the plant producer and the landscape architect,” says company director Vern Wearmouth. “Our goal is to ensure that sufficient supply is available to effectively implement a design and realise the landscape architect’s creation.”

An example is the Weiti Bay project. Implementation of the project will be 2017, but the plant list was provided in early 2016, which has allowed Kauri Park to collect seed from all the correct species in that ecological region, to suit the landscape design plan. Kauri Park places great importance on eco-sourcing plants, and the key to success is sufficient lead-time.

The reality in eco-sourcing is that a plant propagator must have 12 – 18 months of lead-time to meet the practical requirements. Kauri Park prefers to communicate with landscape design teams about upcoming projects as early as possible, so that the seed-collecting botanists can secure the range of plants that may be required for projects of any size. Kauri Park is now finalising the last of the 2017 seed collection; this year’s seed season is closing as Mother Nature prepares for winter and spring. These seeds will provide the plant source for 2017 and a few species for 2018. All seeds and plants are tracked by a coding system, from storage right through to the point of delivery.

New Zealand has exciting times ahead and great opportunities for development and associated infrastructure. Kauri Park is proud to be partnering with the New Zealand Institute of Landscape Architects with this progress; and growing and greening New Zealand. 

PlantsFiona Hoyle