Weeds awareness has received a major boost in the Wakatipu area of Otago with a successful exhibition at the recent Glenorchy Flower Show.
The Weedbusters display was organised by Department of Conservation Rangers Willie McBeth and Wayne Costello, and supported by Weedbusters National Coordinator Carolyn Lewis and Otago Conservancies Technical Support Officer (Weeds), Pete Raal.
“A flower show probably isn’t where you’d expect to see a weed display, but the Weedbusters exhibition at the Glenorchy Flower Show was a timely reminder of the threat that some garden beauties present to New Zealand’s native forests,” Mr McBeth said.
“Despite unfavourable weather, the local community hall was crammed with people checking out the cut flowers displays, photos, scarecrows and preserves. And a lot of attention went to our interesting looking weed display near the stage,” he said.
As part of the display, members of the public were invited to test their weed identification knowledge of local weedy plants.
“Most people knew a few of the weeds, but not all,” said Mr McBeth. “And some people were very alarmed to find they were harbouring weeds in their gardens that could threaten our local environment,” he said.
Around 75% of the weeds that are invading New Zealand’s bush, coastal, tussocklands and wetlands are ornamental garden species that have ‘jumped the fence’.
Ironically, weedy flowers turned up as part of the floral arrangements entered into the competition on the day. The champion of this section displayed Spanish heath, Himalayan honeysuckle, and broom. It was elegantly finished off with a trim of Chilean flame creeper!
Mr McBeth said the public response was excellent, although some people took some convincing that what they thought were ‘beautiful garden species’ were, in fact, harmful weeds.
“We feel that with current high profile of the fresh water invasive didymo (rock snot), people have a heightened awareness that weeds do pose a serious threat for New Zealand.”
Weedbusters is an interagency organisation supported by the Department of Conservation, Biosecurity New Zealand, Federated Farmers, Biodiversity New Zealand, NZ Landcare Trust, Nursery and Garden Industry Association, NZ Biosecurity Institute, NZ Plant Protection Society, and all unitary and regional councils in New Zealand.
Information about Weedbusters can be found at www.weedbusters.org.nz