It’s the first time garden centres in the Bay of Plenty have worked with Environment Bay of Plenty to provide weeds education sessions, and it is seen as a significant step in helping gardeners understand how plants that have ‘jumped the fence’ and become weedy threaten the environment.
Environment Bay of Plenty’s Weedbusters coordinator for Tauranga, Sara Brill, will be running the free in-store weed sessions at participating garden centres on the 4th and 5th of August.
“I’ll be helping people understand just how serious the weeds problem is for New Zealand, and how to identify problem weeds. I’ll also outline what people can do to help,” Sara says.
“It’s important to get more people thinking about weeds and their consequences for bush, coastal and wetlands areas – especially in recognising garden plants that potentially can ‘escape’ gardens and become environmentally damaging weeds. People need to know how to get rid of them before they spread,” Sara says.
Garden centres taking part in the Conservation Week weeds campaign include Pacifica, Welcome Bay Palmers, Palmers Chapel Street, and Décor, all of which are members of the Nursery and Garden Industry Association, one of the supporting organizations behind the national Weedbusters programme.
“People want to know what plants to keep and what to get rid of, especially when they have a new property,” says Peter Wayman at Palmers Chapel Street.
“They bring in bits for identification, especially of privet because of the health problems it causes with asthma. Most people are aware there is a list of pest plants, but unaware of what plants are on that list.”
“People are often searching for knowledge of what will be successful to eradicate their weeds. Sometimes there is no ‘quick fix’, but a longer term programme is necessary,” Gina Clark from Décor Garden Centre says.
“Often people are horrified when they discover they have ginger or woolly nighshade.”
Ms Clark says many people are also unaware that some traditional garden plants, such as chilean rhubarb, ladder fern or jasmine, are regarded as weeds.
Bonnie Bill from Pacifica Garden Centre says the educational aspect of weed advice is very important.
And Ian Walker from Welcome Bay Palmers Garden Centre agrees, adding that it is important for people to get the right product for the right weeds to clean up problems.
“The more information we can give our customers the better,” Mr Walker says.
The weed advice sessions will be run at Décor Garden Centre, Palmers Chaple Street Garden Centre on Chapel St, Wrightson’s and Farmlands on August 4th and Welcome Bay and Pacifica Garden Centres on August 5th. Session times are available from participating outlets.
Information about other Conservation Week weedbusting activities in the Bay of Plenty is available from Sara Brill at Environment Bay of Plenty on 0800 368 267
Photo caption: Palmers Chapel Street staff member, Olwen Hooper, with a selection of alternative plants recommended in the booklet “Plant me instead’’