Welcome to Issue 14 of the Wollemi Watch, a quarterly newsletter for Wollemi Pine enthusiasts everywhere.
In this issue, we report on some new trials that have highlighted the waterwise nature of the Wollemi Pine – important information for those in drought affected areas. Recent archaeological expeditions into the Wollemi National Park funded by the Wollemi Auction in October 2005 uncover new sites with ancient Aboriginal rock art and artefacts. We feature the exciting Wollemi activities in the UK including news of the upcoming display at the world famous Chelsea Flower Show. Wollemi Pines are awarded to the 2007 Australians of the Year including well known environmentalist Tim Flannery. We also profile the Kids Earth Fund and the great work they are undertaking to promote cross cultural understanding and environmental awareness through children’s art. As the first issue for 2007, we wish you an exciting and rewarding year ahead.
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Trials highlight the Wollemi as WaterWise
As many states in Australia are being affected by drought and tight water restrictions, there is an increasing emphasis on the value of waterwise plants. We know the Wollemi Pine is a tough Australian native conifer as it survived 200 million years, the dinosaurs and climate change – but new research shows it is also waterwise.
“When compared to the production of other Australian natives species including Grevillea, Banksia and Eucalypts, the Wollemi is in the low water use category,” said Malcolm Baxter, the Wollemi Nursery Manager at Forestry Plantations Queensland.
“Trials at our nursery have shown that the Wollemi Pine will survive without water for extended periods when compared to other native nursery stock such as Grevilleas and Eucalypts.”
Horticultural experience at Mount Annan Botanic Garden in Sydney has supported the case for the Wollemi as waterwise. Dr Cathy Offord, Horticultural Research Scientist at Mount Annan Botanic Gardens (Sydney) has commented that “the Wollemi Pine does not require a lot of water to grow well and it requires a lot less water than many species which have evolved in similar environments.”
Trials by an established indoor plant rental business (Rentokil) has further endorsed the waterwise claim with research that shows: “the Wollemi Pine has a remarkable ability to tolerate soil dryness for an extended period of three weeks under medium to high light conditions with fluctuating temperatures between 5°C and 30°C – a unique feature to this species which is not evident in our comprehensive range of traditional interior plants.”
The waterwise nature of the Wollemi Pine may be attributed to its many unique features which have helped it adapt to the harsh, drought affected Australian environment:
- Foliage: Its leaves have a thick cuticle (a very thin film covering the outer, or epidermis, layer of the leaf), a fibrous hypodermis (a layer of cells just under the epidermis) and sunken stomata (pores), a survival characteristic which helps it reduce water loss.
- Coppicing: The Wollemi Pine has a habit of developing multiple stems, called “coppicing”, which may have evolved as a defence against drought, fire or rockfall in the wild, thereby ensuring its survival.
- Polar caps: During the colder months, the Wollemi Pine becomes dormant and its growing buds develop an attractive white waxy coating with pink ruby lines. This protects its growing tips and is thought to have helped it survive many ice ages.
Remember, to follow these guidelines when watering your Wollemi Pine:
As a pot plant, the Wollemi Pine only needs to be watered when the potting mix becomes dry. It is then recommended that the Wollemi is watered until saturation and not watered again until the potting mix is dry (this can be determined by testing the top 5cm of the potting mix). During summer, pot specimens generally require watering once weekly or fortnightly, depending on the location and pot type. During winter, watering is required even less frequently. In fact, the Wollemi is very intolerant to excessive and over-watering which can result in the decline of the Pine.
To find out more about caring for your Wollemi Pine visit http://www.wollemipine.com/care_information.php
Wollemi sales support World Heritage
The global launch of the Wollemi Pines via Sotheby’s Auction in October 2005 raised funds for conservation groups in Australia, the UK, Japan, NZ and Europe. One of the beneficiaries in Australia was the Blue Mountains World Heritage Institute which invested all the funds raised from the sale of lot 15 (the Malangyu Grove) in their ongoing field research into the cultural heritage of the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area (the secret home of the Wollemi Pine).
The Auction funds were used to launch a major expedition to a rugged part of the Wollemi National Park (within the Blue Mountains) which was headed by Professor Paul S.C. Taçon and attended by Aboriginal representatives, archaeologists, members of the bushwalking community, Department of Environment and Conservation employees and a journalist. The team made a number of significant discoveries including locating an extremely old site estimated at least 4000 years of age with 15 faint red hand stencils. The site is thought to be among the oldest surviving rock art in the greater Sydney region.
Other exciting discoveries were a shelter with a complete stone axe and the largest engraved platform in the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area. It was the first time a complete axe has been found in situ anywhere in the Greater Blue Mountains Area and possibly even in the greater Sydney region.
Of the charcoal drawing sites uncovered at various sites, images included a rare striped animal resembling an extinct thylacine (Tasmanian Tiger), macropods, eel-serpents, human figures in ceremonial poses, and possibly a depiction of a woman giving birth.
Some of the activities Aboriginal people may have been engaging in when they visited the rugged section of the Wollemi National Park was ceremony, along with associated trade, meeting and sharing between various groups.
Research in the Wollemi National Park will be ongoing now with these new discoveries and maybe one day the Wollemi Pine will appear in the rock art of these ancient people.
To read more about the work of the Blue Mountains World Heritage Institute, click here
Behind the Scenes with our UK Partners
The RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2007, one of the worlds most prestigious flower shows will see UK based Kernock Park Plants creating an innovative and exciting ‘Jurassic-style’ garden exhibit in the very heart of Chelsea’s Great Pavilion.
The display will show the development and transition of the Wollemi Pine, Wollemia nobilis, from its discovery in the Blue Mountains Australia in 1994 through to its use as a patio, park and garden plant in 2007 and beyond.
Selected garden centres across the UK are displaying and pre-selling the tree in the run up to Chelsea. Customers will be able to collect their trees on Wollemi Week-end (26th & 27th May) which coincides with the end of this year’s Chelsea Flower Show.
Retailers are reporting excellent sales figures through January and February, in what is traditionally a quite time for plant sales. Jim Clarke of Johnstown Garden Centre in Ireland has been amazed at the public’s response. “We have now pre-sold over 80 trees which shows the public’s enthusiasm for this incredible tree”
Sales at the Kew Gardens plant centre in London and Wakehurst Place in Sussex have also been positive with over 100 trees sold to date. Sarah Elson of RBG Kew says “Sales of the Wollemi Pine have been brisk considering the time of year and I am expecting this to rise even further from Easter when foot-fall in the garden increases”.
The Wollemi pine is perfectly hardy in the British Isles and recently won Horticulture Week’s Award for Best New Plant Variety where it was described as ‘Set to be the plant introduction of the year with huge retail appeal.’
“This is exactly the start we wanted for the Wollemi Pine”, said Kernock Park Plants Business Development Manager, Mark Taylor. “The more trees we can pre-sell prior to their release on Wollemi Week-end the better, as part of the money raised from sales is going directly back into conserving rare and endangered plants – including the Wollemi Pine – in the wild.”
Young saplings which have been propagated from the trees in the wild are being grown under close security on Kernock Park Plants nursery in Cornwall, England. Kernock Park Plants are primarily a plant propagator and wholesale supplier of young plants, wholesaling through the nursery and gardening trade. They are a member of Proven Winners™ Europe which consisting of eight large, innovative and influential European young plant producers; who search for new, special and high-quality varieties, and introduce them successfully to the market.
“We are proud to have been appointed by Wollemi Australia Pty Ltd as the sole licensed grower of the Wollemi Pine in the United Kingdom.” said Kernock Park Plant’s Managing Director, Bruce Harnett. For further information please visit www.kernock.co.uk
If other UK garden centres would like to get involved with pre-sales of the Wollemi Pine they should contact Mark Taylor at Kernock on 01579 350561.
To visit the UK website please visit http://www.wollemipine.co.uk/
Wollemi receives French Innovation Award
The Wollemi Pine has been awarded a special jury prize in the “product innovation” category of a competition at the Salon du Végétal – France’s largest and most prestigious horticulture trade show which attracts over 15,000 professionals. The award recognises market trends and awards original plants, marketing concepts and new packaging.
Click here to view the Wollemi Pine entry
Australians of the Year presented with Wollemi Pines
Wollemi Australia was delighted to be invited to present Wollemi Pines to the 2007 Australian of the Year awardees at special events in Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, and Cairns sponsored by the Commonwealth Bank.
Australian of the Year was awarded to Professor Tim Flannery - one of the world's leading writer-scientists and an internationally acclaimed explorer and environmentalist.
Wollemi Australia thought it was only fitting that Professor Flannery should have a living memory of his achievements that symbolised his commitment to conservation.
Wollemi Pines were also gifted to the other awardees which included:
Queensland's indigenous youth advocate, Tania Major, who was named Young Australian of the Year for her efforts in addressing the issues involved in the welfare of young indigenous people.
South Australia's Phillip Herreen who was announced as Senior Australian of the Year for his role as a mentor for people who have become disabled through accidents and as a volunteer facilitator helping young people in trouble for driving and other offences.
Melbourne's Shanaka Fernando was awarded Australia's Local Hero in recognition of his work founding not-for-profit restaurant group 'Lentil As Anything'.
All recipients were delighted with their Wollemi Pines and will treasure them as the ultimate national icon and momento of their contribution to the Australian community.
To read more about the Australia of the Year awards, click here
Support the Kids Earth Fund
A mural that features the artwork (including a painting of the Wollemi Pine) of 126 children from across NSW will soon tour Peru as part of a cultural exchange program that aims to educate children in both countries about threatened species and encourage them to protect their future environment.
The non-profit organisation Kids Earth Fund (KEF), initiated the mural “Our Habitat Through Children’s Eyes” in 2006 to create a stunning and powerful conservation message.
The World Conservation Union’s 2006 Red List of Threatened Species, named Australia and Peru in the top twelve countries that have a high number of species on the list.
At a cultural level, the project will act as a bridge for children from Australia and Peru to learn about each other’s environment through an artwork exchange and related discussions. KEF will return to the schools that participated in the Australian stage of the project in July 2007 for a presentation of the Peru trip to the children.
“Our children will become tomorrow’s leaders and exposing them to this project will help build an environmental consciousness within themselves,” Mr Pittman said.
“Developing an understanding and increasing our younger generation’s awareness of ecological processes and natural systems will enhance the whole community’s quality of life now and in the future.”
KEF is a not for profit organisation supporting children’s lifelong learning experiences by initiating art and ecological awareness workshops. Its mission is to facilitate innovative artistic experiences for children, as a means of developing communication, expression and understanding through art.
To support the Kids Earth Fund and their mural project “Our Habitat Through Children’s Eyes” contact Phil Pittman on email@example.com.
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