News article

Myross Bush Gearing up for Planting - June 2021

Following up on last years tree learning and class visits to the Southland Community Nursery I have spent a couple of sessions working alongside Myross Bush School at school on their planting project journey. On 3 June I met with the schools Envirogroup, looking at their plan for what they are wanting to do on site. I noticed they had “plants” written on part of their map, so I introduced them to 7 NZ native plants - weeping mapou, cabbage tree, kōwhai, ribbonwood, mingimingi, red tussock and mānuka - as the school has got some of these species to plant. Learn about these species at Wetlands Planting List • Southland Community Nursery. We wandered down to the project space and started to “see” their written and drawn plan in the actual planting space. Questions over how big the area might be, where they are planting, what they are planting and how it might look were discussed. The group learnt more about the plants - as they all grow to different heights - so this may help with the planning of the area. The Envirogroup learnt that the 7 species of plants that the school has to plant are great first planters and will be just perfect for this planting along with the harakeke that the school is rehoming - tumeke! Building a forest for kahikatea is hard work, but lots of fun in the mud!

On 10 June I visited again, along with Josh (Enviroschools Facilitator, Environment Southland). The Envirogroup talked through the plan and map designed so far and how this plan for action changes as more information is learnt. Josh continued working on this plan with all the new ideas while I went and planted some of the flax waiting to be planted - to get this taoka in the ground so it can grow. And we found cabbage trees too! We talked about tap roots, and pondered whether the cabbage tree we planted would survive. We chose wet areas for the flax and cabbage tree as they don’t mind wet feet and are great first planters. The planting group learnt how to plant, and learnt about the different names these species have - common, Te Reo and scientific names. After planting I continued into the Mataī team - so that these new entrants could learn the names of the NZ native plants that will be planted - looking closely at a leaf, and noticing if it was the same or different to their neighbours leaves. We then looked really closely at kōwhai, as this is the tree that this team is learning all about. We looked at the small round paired leaves, the yellow flowers and the big hard yellow seeds. Watching some birds in the kōwhai tree, we found that tui and bellbirds have a tongue - a bit like a paintbrush that can slurp the tasty nectar from the base of the kōwhai flower. We also watched kereru eating the kōwhai tree. The kōwhai tree is great for birds, and the birds help the kōwhai tree by pollinating it as they move from flower to flower. After lunch the Kawaka team too learnt about the NZ native plants that will be planted - looking closely at leaves and their characteristics. We looked closely at the different seed types different plants have. While a smaller team went with Josh to plan out the path part of the plan, we looked closer at the cabbage tree learning how brown coloured the leaves are when they first germinate and grow, and then change to the green colour, then grow a trunk, and have spikey flowers. Having found the last of the season’s cabbage tree fruit, I described the fruit and squashed it to show a tiny black seed inside…which will grow into a brown leafed cabbage tree, completing the life cycle. The two groups presented back to each other sharing what they had done and learnt. Finishing the day in Rawe we focused on the magnificent mānuka. I introduced a mānuka to the class and they started telling me all about its life cycle - sharing their wonderful learning with me. Looking closely we saw how tiny the mānuka seeds are, and how lots of them come out of each hard pod. Hands on teamwork got some more seed out of some pods - but it was hard work. I explained how we collect and leave the seed pods in a tray to open up naturally in the heat and sun. The class is going to leave the mānuka pods in their classroom and watch the seeds be released, and then plant these and try to grow some mānuka. Looking at photos of the mānuka we counted 5 petals, and also counted 5 sections on each of the seed pods.

What a great day with Myross Bush School.