Nigel Binks is an avid explorer who enjoys travel and appreciates the natural beauty of different habitat types across the world, from coastal marine areas to mountains and wetlands.
In this series, he describes his journey of creating a wetland on his small rural property near Hamilton.
Sitting in my home office amid a COVID-19 Alert Level 4 lockdown, I’ve had a chance to reflect on the wonderful opportunity which was the wetland planting day, held at my home just over a month ago.
Sunday the 11 July 2021 was a surprisingly warm winter’s day.
On the Saturday prior my friend Dan and I had spent six hours carefully positioning the plants around the planting area. We determined which species, tress such as kahikatea and Rimu, have soil quality and drainage preferences and found the most suitable site for each plant. This took quite some time, but as the sun went down on that evening we felt we were prepared. The 30 spades were all laid out and ready for use.
Dan had joked: “Imagine if we managed to get all those spades going at the same time…”. To which I replied “we’d probably get it smashed out by lunch-time if we had a few extras to help them out too. I’d be surprised though if we get that many people here all at once. Here’s hoping”.
So as the mornings dew was rising from the grasses at 10am Sunday, I was pleasantly surprised to see a community of volunteers, friends, and family, arrive to undertake a solid day’s work – and sure enough, there weren’t enough spades for every individual. I was stoked! Not only did 25 people arrive in the first half hour, but there were about 60 helpers across the span of the day including my fencing contractor and the digger operator who undertook the excavation work. By 11:40am we were running out of plants, with the team having already put about 850 native plants in the ground. Bamboo stakes were inserted beside each plant and a small squad of people moved about securing the plants to stakes using hemp string. With the task so well in-hand I hurried to prepare a BBQ & hot chips lunch for all, and we took a well-deserved break at 12:00pm.
Although the plants were in the ground, the after-lunch task required considerable gusto and everyone chipped in to shovel load after load of wood mulch onto trailers before wheelbarrowing it, unloading and distributing the mulch around the wetland plants and main raised area.
Together we transported and unloaded nine trailer loads of wood mulch that day, providing a weed suppressant and substrate cover around the bases of all the native plants.
Overall, we well exceeded my ambitions for the day and still finished at 2:45pm, 15 minutes early. This event occurred outside of a COVID alert level so of course we congratulated each other with high fives and the shaking of hands before giving hugs when saying fond farewell. What a time!!
Now the long wait occurs. Winter is passing, spring is coming and in time the native plants will begin to grow, dominate the area and eventually repopulate the wetland over time with their offspring.
I’m looking forward to watching that natural development, and have my friends and family to thank for what’s been done – and what’s to come.