November 24, 2017

Tripping Around New Zealand with a Kiwi

Pamela Rogers Photo | Wellington Botanic Gardens in New Zealand

Pamela Rogers Photo | Wellington Botanic Gardens in New Zealand

• By Janine Pineo •

I couldn’t have stopped her, even if I wanted to try.

I didn’t.

Pamela Rogers, enthusiastic Kiwi from the Kapiti Coast, took the camera and ran with it.

All over the place.

Pamela Rogers Photo | Founders' Gate shows the early Victorian/Edwardian style of Wellington Botanic Gardens in New Zealand

Pamela Rogers Photo | Founders’ Gate shows the early Victorian/Edwardian style of Wellington Botanic Gardens in New Zealand

We were discussing plants, of course, and it came up that I was trying to decide which plants to feature for the royal premiere of ‘The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” on Dec. 12., not to mention for the North American release on Dec. 14.

Pamela had an idea. And in the short time we’ve been corresponding, I have learned to let her run with it.

It would seem that there are a couple of “royal” plants that would be great to keep the royal theme rolling. And Pamela was pretty sure she knew right where to find them.

Pamela Rogers Photo | Winding road and paths at Wellington Botanic Gardens in New Zealand

Pamela Rogers Photo | Winding road and paths at Wellington Botanic Gardens in New Zealand

What follows are Pamela’s notes and photographs (with information taken from here and here) on her visits to track down the Prince of Wales fern and the crown fern for today’s Daily Plant special royal flush. (Click on the name of each plant to read further.)

Wellington Botanic Gardens
Pamela Rogers Photo | Wellington Botanic Gardens plant sculptures called the Green Islands

Pamela Rogers Photo | Wellington Botanic Gardens plant sculptures called the Green Islands

In 1844, the New Zealand Company set aside a 5.26 hectare strip of land for a Botanic Garden reserve. At that time the land was covered in dense podocarp forest including rimu, totara and matai.

The New Zealand Company was a business set up in Britain to start migration to New Zealand. It started the first systemic migration of mainly English citizens to New Zealand starting with Wellington from January 1840.

The Garden was established in 1868 and managed by the New Zealand Institute. Trees growing today on Druid Hill and Magpie Spur grew from seedlings planted at this time and are some of the oldest exotic trees in New Zealand.

Pamela Rogers Photo

Pamela Rogers Photo

In the 1870s the fledgling garden was boosted with a further 21.85 hectares of reserve. Wellington City Council has managed the Botanic Garden since 1891.

Today it is a stunning outdoor resource for Wellingtonians and visitors to the city all year round. Within walking distance of the central city, it is a popular place on weekdays to eat lunch in the fresh air or for the more energetic to clamber up its hills as an escape from the office. At weekends it is overtaken by families for picnicking or bridal parties using the gorgeous backdrops for their weddings.

And it’s great for treasure hunts, trust me! Events are held year round such as the spring tulip festival, November rose festival and a range of summer events including outdoor Shakespeare in the Dell.

Pamela Rogers Photo | The fernery at Otari-Wilton's Bush in Wellington, New Zealand

Pamela Rogers Photo | The fernery at Otari-Wilton’s Bush in Wellington, New Zealand

Otari-Wilton’s Bush
Pamela Rogers Photo

Pamela Rogers Photo

Otari is Maori and is pronounced as oh-TAH-ree.

Wilton’s Bush is the only substantial piece of virgin native forest left in Wellington City. In 1860, Job and Ellen Wilton decided to set aside some 7.5 hectares (17 acres) of bush on their farm. Much of the bush was being cut down for timber, or cleared for farming. The addition of associated land once owned by Maori brought the reserve to 80 hectares. Original native forest is called ngahere in Maori – pronounced nah-HERE-ree.

In that original section are rimu and rata trees between 400 and 800 years old.

Pamela Rogers Photo

Pamela Rogers Photo

The land became an official scenic reserve in 1906. In 1925 this block was acquired by the “Mayor, Councillors and Citizens of Wellington”, and chosen to be the site of the Otari Open Air Native Plant Museum, established in 1926 by botanist Leonard Cockayne.

Today it covers almost 100 hectares, with 5 hectares in plant collections. It is the only botanic garden in New Zealand solely dedicated to native plants.

We’ve been going to the reserve since we were small. It’s very popular with locals for dog-walking (on a leash),

Pamela Rogers Photo

Pamela Rogers Photo – click on photo to enlarge

exercising (it’s hilly!), and for those in the neighboring areas or even not so local, as we were back in the day, for family picnics (there’s a huge glade area, and plenty of places for kids to explore!). Even the brief showers of rain yesterday didn’t seem to spoil anyone’s fun.

The Wilton family also gave their name to the suburb of Wilton, in which Otari-Wilton’s Bush is situated.

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Photographs kindly provided by Pamela Rogers of the Kapiti Coast, in December 2012. For a bit more about Pamela, click to read here.

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“New Zealand’s flora is described as being unique due to our long isolation many thousands of years ago. We have some 2,357 different plant species and approximately 80% of them are endemic, meaning they don’t occur anywhere else in the world.”

– From the Auckland Botanic Gardens website

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How did all this come about? You can read about how Janine Pineo of Garden Maine found Anna Paton, more than 9,000 miles away, as the crow flies. If a crow could fly 9,000 miles like that. Click here for that story.