Tasman Leader : February 27th 2014
28 THE TASMAN LEADER, FEBRUARY 27, 2014 GARDENING/PARENTING/NEWS Two unusual wild flowers By STEPHEN MCCARTHY Europe to sow on developing farms. This was often little better than threshed seed from meadow hay and consequently there were often many stowaways imported with it, in the form of annual and perennial pasture plants. Many of these such as ragwort and dock have become troublesome pasture weeds but there are others which are comparatively harmless and quite attractive. Our friends Tony and Vivienne Whitaker who farm in the Orinoco Valley which was originally settled about 1870. Being keen botanists and running an open garden they are very aware of plants found on their farm. Tony, who died suddenly last I week, recently sent me these two pictures which he took on the farm, of the European perennials Achillea ptarmica and Campanula rapunculus, both of which are very rare in the wild in New Zealand. They exist on the n the early days of colonisation in New Zealand grass seed was imported from Whitakers’ farm in old hill paddocks which have probably not been resown since the original forest clearance. Probably these plants were more common and more widely distributed but constant cultivation and resowing of land since settlement has meant that they have been much reduced. Achillea ptarmica exists on only about seven other recorded sites in the country and Campanula rapunculus is even rarer. Achillea ptarmica belongs to the same genus as the common perennial yarrow, the attractively coloured forms of which are in general cultivation in gardens. A. ptarmica is a herbaceous perennial from Europe to central Russia. It grows to 50 to 60 centimetres tall and has loose clusters of white button-like flowers blooming from late spring to late summer. It has dark green leaves with finely toothed margins. Probably much more familiar to the gardener is its double flowering form A. ptarmica, ‘‘The Pearl’’. This is a fine specimen for Rare in the wild: Achillea ptarmica and Campanula rapunculus flowering at Whitaker’s farm. the perennial border making a compact plant with elegant sprays of pure white double pom-pom flowers produced over a long period in summer. ‘‘The Pearl’’ was a favourite plant of the garden designer Gertrude Jekyll and looks stunning when planted in large drifts with a backdrop of evergreens. It is easily propagated from seed and flowers in about three months. This attractive perennial was awarded the Royal Horticultural Society’s Award of Garden Merit in 1999 and plants are available by mail order from Parva Plants, PO Box 16550 Christchurch 8441. Seed can be purchased from King’s Seeds, PO Box 283 Katikati 3166, Bay of Plenty. The fine seed should be sown on the surface of good seed compost in small pots and left uncovered. The pots should be watered from the base by standing them in water and the surface kept moist by frequent misting. Place the pots in a propagator or a warm place and germination should occur in 7 to 14 days. The seedlings should be gently pricked out into small pots after the first set of true leaves appear. When grown on, they should be gradually acclimatised to the outdoors for about a fortnight before planting in the garden. Do not plant out until all risk of frosts has passed. They should be Photo: TONY WHITAKER. spaced out to about 30 centimetres in a good well-drained sunny position. Campanula rapunculus, with the common names rampion bellflower, rampion, or rover bellflower, is found naturally in western Asia, north Africa and in most of Europe. This species was once widely grown for its leaves which were used like spinach and its parsniplike root, which was used like a radish. Like most campanulas it has blue flowers, but more tubular rather than the bell shape from which the genus takes its name. There is only one specimen of this species in Te Papa’s herbarium and that is from the Whitakers’ farm. How to educate about ‘treat foods’ Parenting Dust off sugar coating and get real about potential problems I read in the paper last week a headline; ‘‘Targeting sugar isn’t the answer’’ which was an article about the high number of sugary drinks available and the current discussion to tax these drinks to help combat the obesity issues our society is facing. My immediate reaction was that it is up to parents to educate children around the problems such drinks can cause and not allow their children to have them. If parents make a decision early on about what they are going to allow their children to have and not have, and explain the decision they have made, then children will have a better understanding around sugary drinks and foods and grow up more knowledgeable and able to make those decisions for themselves. When in supermarkets it is often cheaper to buy soft/fizzy drinks than it is to buy water and milk. The packaging is also far more appealing, and because I advocate for parents to take their children with them to the supermarket because it is a valuable learning experience, I appreciate that it is easy to give in and buy ‘‘treat’’ foods that could be outside the budget. I suggest that parents talk to their children about the fact that such foods are a treat, and perhaps only for special occasions. If this language is used while the child is growing up, then they will not expect to be able to consume them regularly. Supermarket trips won’t be so stressful, because children won’t be demanding products you with Brenda Holdaway enting don’t want them to have. There are many parents who don’t allow their children to have anything fizzy or sweet, which is great. These children don’t ask for such products and often grow up not liking sugary drinks or sweets. So as a parent, make a decision about whether you want your children to have lots of sweets and fizzy drinks, and then come up with a plan of how you are going to make changes to your lifestyle and household. It may be that you are only allowed a bottle of fizz once a fortnight, so it won’t be in the house until then. If you do decide to restrict the amount, then talk to your children about it, and get them involved in coming up with other things they could have as a substitute. It might be a nice jug of cold water in the fridge with slices of lemon in it. That may sound boring, but sliced lemon in a jug of water makes it look and taste special. Although sugary drinks and sweets are nice to eat and have, think about the effect they are having on your children, not only their body but also their ability to learn and function. Make a decision and stick with it. It may mean you have to make changes as well, but our children are only young once and they will probably thank you for it later in life. NEWSWRAP A selection of stories written in the past week by Nelson Mail and Leader reporters. Thursday ❏ Parking was back in the news with revelations that Nelson City Council’ new parking contractors are expected to write at least 1300 more tickets a year than the council parking wardens used to manage . . . but the new operators are already rating well ahead of that. ❏ A conservationist looking for kea found two sets of moa bones in caves on Mt Owen. Friday ❏ Nelson Marlborough District Health Board has become the first in the country to ban sugary drinks from its two hospitals. ❏ Prime Minister John Key was kept away by fog at Wellington Airport, but the Cawthron Institute celebrated the opening of its most significant upgrade for 40 years. Saturday ❏ A Mariri couple are considering legal options to block a section of the Great Taste Cycle Trail past their property as they believe cost-cutting will make it unsafe. ❏ Treasured Nelson RSA war memorabilia is languishing in a shipping container and might be donated to the Nelson Provincial Museum for safekeeping. Sunday ❏ The NZ King Salmon Nelson Marlborough Falcons are destined meet Auckland in the national youth league final after winning the southern conference unbeaten with two games to spare. ❏ The Golden Edge Nelson Rowing Club has returned from their national finals with eight medals, four of them gold, in a stunning result for a resurgent club. Monday ❏ Nelson schools say they are frustrated with the problem-ridden Novopay system and have lost trust in it. Nelson College head Gary O’Shea says the system is a train wreck. ❏ Motueka police issued a strong plea to boaties to check weather forecasts before setting out after a small vessel with two adults and a child was blown on to rocks off Stephens Bay and had to be rescued. Tuesday ❏ An outdoor education teacher who created a false ID as a 15-year-old girl to seek sexual images from students was jailed for two-and-a-half years on 30 charges in the Nelson District Court. ❏ Warning signs have gone up on three Maitai River footbridges warning they might be unsafe in the event of a significant earthquake. And Nelson mayor Rachel Reese warns that the council has no money set aside for upgrading earthquake-prone buildings. Wednesday ❏ Central city businesses and courier drivers expressed alarm at the recent spike in parking tickets in Nelson, one saying the parking regime is vicious and bad for business. ❏ The virus that swept through Waimea College staff has been confirmed as norovirus and is believed to have originated in the staffroom. ❏ After being set to close, Richmond psychogeriatric care centre Alexandra Hospital is to get an $800,000 do-up.
February 20th 2014
March 6th 2014