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A new booklet urging Northlanders to abandon damaging introduced plants in favour of similar, but harmless, native and exotics will be released shortly.
The Northland edition of the national Weedbusters ‘Plant Me Instead’ booklet has been written to specifically address pest plants plaguing the region and incorporates dozens of species nominated by Northlanders.
The Northland Regional Council, Department of Conservation (DOC), Weedbusters and the region’s three district councils last year invited Northlanders to contribute suggestions to the rewrite and help them fight back on behalf of native species.
Sara Brill, a Biosecurity Officer with the regional council, says too many patches of native bush, wetlands, lakes and other natural areas in Northland are being strangled or taken over by garden plants that have ‘jumped the fence’ and gone wild.
She says the booklet identifies more than 80 common weedy species people are likely to find in Northland gardens, with suggestions of similar - but harmless – plants they could use instead. A native and exotic alternative is given for each pest plant.
Ms Brill says weedy species are escaping from dumped garden waste as seeds carried by birds or by wind. They can quickly gain footholds in precious areas where it can be very costly to try to control them.
She says every year local authorities, DOC and voluntary groups spend large sums of money in Northland dealing with plant pests.
Northlanders were asked to suggest the garden escapees they thought were a problem in the region and many of these have been incorporated into the more than 80-page booklet, including blue morning glory, climbing asparagus, arum lilies, agapanthus, jasmine and ginger.
To officially launch the booklet, organisers are having plant swaps in both Whangarei and Kerikeri this month and plan to give away about 450 native plants plus free copies of the booklet.
Ms Brill says numbers are limited and conditions do apply. To qualify, people need to bring a shopping bag full of pest plants (including the roots) to either the Whangarei Growers Market, Water Street, Whangarei from 7am-10am on Saturday 15 October or to the Kerikeri Rotary Garden Safari on Saturday 29 October.
She says 300 plants (donated by Alter-Natives Nursery and Landscaping and Tawapou Coastal Natives) and booklets will be given away in Whangarei and another 150 plants (donated by Kerikeri Plant Production) and booklets at Kerikeri.
Ms Brill says Northland gardeners who take up the call to opt for less harmful species will be helping the region in more ways than one.
“Not only will they be attacking the seed source that’s helping spread these pest plants, they’ll also be saving themselves (and other ratepayers) money because every weed we stop ‘jumping the fence’ is one less that has to be cleared.”
Ms Brill says free copies of the booklets will be available from all Northland Regional Council and Department of Conservation offices from later this month.
More information on pests in Northland is also available from the regional council’s website at: www.nrc.govt.nz/nasties