As a tour guide operator I am often asked where I got my knowledge of New Zealand plants and trees from or even the knowledge of the area being explored or told I should write a book of all I know. This was something that was dismissed immediately as I struggle with concentration and adequately transform my thoughts to paper.
On pondering this all too common question I could only think of what I did not know – those fascinating and abundant things like fungi, lichens, mosses and ferns.
Where did this interest stem from? Even pre-school, plant colours and smells in the garden attracted me and in the hills that scrubby old manuka set off a lifetime love affair. Even today the smell of manuka instantly brings great childhood memories.
Maybe, it was these early fascinations that lead me to be trained in the Forest Service along side some of the countries best bush people and later to establish a Farm Landscaping business and a native plant nursery, based on ecological principals, to cater for the wildlife habitats, revegetation projects and windbreak establishment I was commissioned to manage.
One major brief that set the bench mark on a very high producing mixed landscape property was “To revert the property to as close as possible to its pre-developed condition without inhibiting the productive capability”.
Hence another very steep learning curve started. If a plant was obviously useful I needed to know why and what its attributes were, how to collect its seed and propagate them and successfully grow and establish them.
Recently I have become increasingly aware that usually the smallest things are the most fascinating. Perhaps it is an age thing, that as you slow up the more you see. This also sits with the fact that I encourage every visitor to maximise their journey by engaging a local, authentic guide who will open their eyes by interpretating their surroundings so that they see and understand and not just look.
I am now aware that over a lifetime I have built up a unique knowledge of New Zealand flora and fauna, history and its hidden or less obvious places. I do not mean the technical stuff but the stories – those things that bring it alive that could even spark a fascination in someone with zero interest.
PLEASE join and interact with me as I explore the wonderful diversity of New Zealand.