Dryland Plant Communities of the Cromwell Area Trip Report 2/ August 09
The first activity of the 2009-2010 programme got off to a very good start with almost 30 people from all over Central attending including a number of people actively involved in native plant propagation and plantings. Wakatipu ecologist Neil Simpson introduced the native species of the Cromwell area in the morning, with an impressive array of plant samples. Pukerau nurseryman Arne Cleland followed with an informative session and demonstration on planting techniques.
Lunch was enjoyed in the quiet and sheltered Long Gully valley on Mt Difficulty Station, overlooked by the Long Gully Conservation Area, an extensive area of stern rock bluffs and grey shrublands with groves of kowhai including young saplings despite goats, possums and rabbits.
The more agile of the group followed Tim Whittaker from the Department of Conservation to scramble steeply up through brier, matagouri and muehlenbeckia to reach some of the lower rock bluffs, and a kowhai grove in a large side gully. The management of the area and the implications of extensive brier and thyme along with possums and goats were topics for discussion. A Pimelea aridula (native daphne) and various Olearia species were botanical highlights and the intrepid John Douglas found an uncommon blanket fern up in the bluffs.
At 3pm people re-grouped and drove over to Lowburn to visit Eugenie Ombler’s garden, mostly native plants with many from the local area. In 18 years, a beautiful tapestry of colour, form and texture has been established and Eugenie’s passion for selecting useful but attractive forms and hybrids, notably the wineberries, was clearly expressed in the structure of her garden. Several of us came away inspired to do better with our own gardens!
All in all it was a very successful day, weather included with the rampant NW keeping at bay the whole day and bringing welcome warmer temperatures.
A big round of thanks to Eugenie for her garden tour and afternoon tea, to the Andersons of Mt Difficulty Station for allowing us access to Long Gully and Tim Whittaker of DOC for accompanying us; to Neil Simpson and Arne Cleland for their morning presentations; and to Jo Wakelin for the use of Room 4 at the Polytech and all her assistance.
Together you all made it a very successful day!
Clay Cliffs and Tarnbrae Trip and Lindis Pass 7/8 March
The cathedral-like ravines and spires of the ancient cemented gravels in the Clay Cliffs are truly awesome. With ever-changing light and shadow touching first this wall then that spire and highlighting the fascinating banding of clays, silts and gravels, the cameras were clicking away. Here exposed for all to see is a record of millennia of periods of fine deposition in under quiet lakes and meandering streams; and in more active times coarser deposits of floods and rushing rivers.
We moved on to the Quailburn woolshed for a pleasant picnic lunch surprisingly sans sandflies, where the young lads did what all young lads do – muck about in the creek while the adults were supine. Here we were joined by Ursula Paul from DOC in Twizel.
Tarnbrae - Come 1:30 we headed down to the entrance to Tarnbrae and drove in along the southern boundary. Over the expansive moraine in front of us a dark raggedy-edged nor’wester blotted out the Hopkins and Dobson river valleys at the head of Ohau.
At first Tarnbrae seemed to hold little promise of botanical interest, apart from bright white gentians standing tall above the sparse grass and stunted matagouri. But the further we walked in the more we saw of the intricate pattern of flat wet channels filled with tall red tussock winding sinuously between low gold and grey mounds, which on close inspection revealed themselves to have a diverse and increasingly indigenous cover including ozothamnus, manuka, bog pine, pimeleas, snowberry, raoulias, matagouri, coprosmas and heath, melicytus, tussock grasses, orchids, and various herbs. We all noted the wilding pines dotted through the area, emanating from a shelter belt along the south boundary.