Monday, November 17, 2014

Dursley Wetland - The Beginnings 2014

Guess what? I have a new wetland project on the go. Now the pizza oven/waterfall plantings are established, it is time to start on a new venture (see the link to waterfall project, over there on the right). So while I wait for the trees to grow at the other spots, I have begun a new revegetation project. Not sure if I am crazy or not - but my theory is that you should plant trees ASAP - not next year, or the year after - but as soon as you can, otherwise you are a year behind in growth. Just get started  as soon as the season permits!!! (April to September are best planting months  in the Wairarapa, for areas you will not be watering. It gets too hot, windy, and dry.).

So this is an old oxbow from the river, which occasionally floods. We have fenced it off from livestock, and had a digger pile up massive old willow trees and earth to create a proper deep pond with lots of inlets and islands. In flood the water still escapes to the main river - but this has hopefully slowed it down, and purified it on the way through. A major catalyst for this development is wetland habitats for birds, and it has been fabulous to watch new birds make this their home. We have had teal, dabchicks, pukeko, a random black swan, plus the more common duck species, and swallows, kingfishers etc. Hopefully we can make this a great breeding ground for them, as well as eels, frogs etc.
Simon Callaghan (George's brother)  in the digger doing the initial pond work. Massive
dead willow trees were piled up to make islands, which will rot down over time. 
BEFORE: swampy ground that dried out in summer
Gives a bit of scale - the wetland area we have now fenced off is
about 1.5 hectares.
This is what I faced on day one of planting!! Logs, mud, and a massive area to fill with plants!!
Need good visualisation skills in this line of work. One day this will be full of mature trees....
First tree. Back at Easter 2014, George planted this special tree for me, on my very own
island!! Magnolia grandiflora. Note that he has bare feet!!! He took his boots off
to cross the pond to get across to the island!! Dedicated. 
The large expanses of water make the most fabulous reflections. This summer we will
put a dinghy in there so we can access the islands to check on the plants. 
Early evening shot of  'Rachel's Island', with Magnolia on top. You can't see at this stage how
many flaxes etc I had split and planted on the island. They won't show up for a few years
now the grasses have grown back on the bare dirt.
Some of the adjacent mature Totara and Kahikatea I am growing seedlings from. I can
only dream that one day the trees I plant will be this size!! Future generations will enjoy them. 
A typical winter weekend for me and my trailer or car load of plants. The wetland is across
paddocks, which did limit when I could reach it in the very wet months. 
Plants and rabbit proof nets lined up ready for action beside the fence.
There are hundreds of plants in the ground, but they are dwarfed by the scale of the landscape.
Most of the islands have been claimed and named by one of the family members, and planted
up in autumn. This island is called 'Isle of Queen Evangeline the Glorious' - to do with a story we
were making up with a young neighbour while we were planting it! Most have more generic names,
like 'Phoebe's Island', or 'Bachelors Island',  named when we decided no-one would ever want to
revisit as the water was too deep to wade through to get to it!! 
A solitary young Beech tree with makeshift animals proofing!! Some naughty sheep and
cattle did manage to sneak in in the early days. They are incredibly destructive. The flaxes either
side are there to help protect the tree from wind, and add shade. A massive clump was split into
about 30 plants. I am quite good at digging unwanted mature flaxes out now, now that I have
a future  use for them!
A Dab chick at the pond. So delightful to see these birds here.
This is what makes all the hard work worthwhile. 
Next time I post about this wetland, hopefully some of the plants will show up a lot more. Most are pretty tiny at the moment, as they are mostly seedlings I have grown on from native trees that have popped up in the home garden. Having been so successful with the waterfall development has given me so much more optimism about this area, which is a lot larger. Like I said at the start - stop  just THINKING about planting (anything!!) - just PLANT when the season is right. It takes a few years for you to start seeing the trees etc are actually getting bigger. Take photos so you can look back and see the difference. Do this for future generations, and the environment. Feel free to ask me any questions in the comments section below. R

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