Whangarei Subtropical Quarry Gardens.
Subject: Gardens (Appreciation)
Gardens (Management)
Bromeliaceae (Appreciation)
Author: Titmus, Erin
Pub Date: 05/01/2010
Publication: Name: Journal of the Bromeliad Society Publisher: Bromeliad Society International Audience: Academic Format: Magazine/Journal Subject: Biological sciences Copyright: COPYRIGHT 2010 Bromeliad Society International ISSN: 0090-8738
Issue: Date: May-June, 2010 Source Volume: 60 Source Issue: 3
Topic: Event Code: 200 Management dynamics Computer Subject: Company business management
Geographic: Geographic Scope: New Zealand Geographic Code: 8NEWZ New Zealand
Accession Number: 248734313
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If you take the SH1 bypass through Whangarei, New Zealand a large brown tourist sign directs to the "Subtropical Quarry Garden" sited less than a kilometre toward the hills. The remains of the quarry are clearly visible and set the character of the gardens planted among spectacular rock and water features--just the right ingredients to produce a microclimate for subtropicals.

The gardens are a community project created and maintained by volunteers and donations. About 12 years ago members of the Northland Bromeliad Group offered to plant a feature bromeliad garden and were allocated an area on shady hillside beside the rippling stream. The group underplanted among the trees and created walking tracks to allow access for the public to enjoy a wide range of bromeliad species.

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The success of this area of bromeliad planting led to the group being offered a new area to develop about five years ago. This is the ponga dell: a flatter area either side of a smaller stream with sunny beds and easy access for all.

Today, Freda Nash, along with Iris and Colin Symonds, remain the stalwart volunteers who meet one day each week to work in the gardens. They are revamping both the bromeliad garden areas by planting the better species and varieties of bromeliad in groups for greater effect. Standout groupings include Neoregelia johannis at the hillside entrance contrasted in the forefront by Aechmea recurvata that has turned bright yellow in a recent drought.

Recently, raised rock beds have been built around specimen chorisia trees near the original garden and the group has underplanted these with bulk broms too. If you are pressed for time you can walk a short loop--over the bridge by the car park to reach the dell, along the low road to the ford to take in the chorisia tree beds on your left and then cross on huge stepping stones to reach the hillside bromeliad garden. You can return downhill on the high road past the camelia walk.

If you visit the website http://www.whangareiquarrygardens.org.nz you can see many other feature gardens to whet your appetite for more detail. A stunning new feature throughout the site is the building of gabion walls made from very large netting boxes filled with rocks.

So, if you have never visited the Quarry Gardens, or it has been a while, then next time you pass through plan to take your driving break (at least) in this quiet haven.

Photos by Colin Symonds.
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