Today, I (no Spaniel, no Mrs. E) went along to a tussock planting day with Lindis Pass Conservation group. As most friends know, I love gardening and plants and such, and when I heard about this trip I just had to go, as I love tussocks! I’m not sure why, perhaps they remind me of my wanderings on the top of Lake District fells, or perhaps I just admire their form, or even their hardiness as they can withstand some harsh weather at high altitudes.

I met a lovely lady called Anne at The Red Bridge (literally a red bridge) about 20 minutes drive from our house, and we drove together through Tarras where we stopped for a coffee and then we carried on to the Lindis Pass. The journey with Anne was enthralling, it was as if I was sat next to a talking natural history text book. I learned a lot about how New Zealand used to be, before forests were burnt down for agriculture land, how New Zealand species in general grow slowly as they did not have any natural predators against which they had to defend themselves. It was fascinating, and gave me lots to think about.

We planted snow tussock (Chionochloa rigidas), which is a native plant which has had a bit of a hard time either when land has been burnt or sheep or hares have been chomping on them. The planting was controlled with several experimental and control plots testing different conditions. For example, with fertilizer, without fertilizer, with lime, without lime. The team will come back in a few years’ time and assess the growth of the plants and how well they have naturalized. Fascinating stuff.

I met some lovely people, Andrew, Sue, Logan, Heather (from Stockport in the UK – it was great to hear a northern accent), Anne and Ursula. Andrew entertained us on the way back talking about Austranesians (I have no idea if that is spelled correctly).

It was a great day and I can’t wait until the next trip.

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