New Park Apple Trees Have Been Created From the Old

Thursday 11 September 2008, 7:41PM
By Wellington City Council


Seven heritage apple trees being planted at Tawa’s Willowbank Park this Saturday 13 September have been specially created and grown to gradually replace the park’s dying fruit trees that are thought to have been originally planted by early settlers.

Cuttings were taken from some of the trees a few years ago and the trees that have been developed from them are now at a stage where they can be planted. A planting ceremony will take place on Saturday at 10.00am near the park's playground in Boscobel Lane.

Councillor Ngaire Best, who raised the subject of the deteriorating trees with Council parks staff a few years ago when she was Chair of the Tawa Community Board, says the second generation trees will preserve the history and character of Willowbank Park.

"It's fantastic that this is happening – it is retaining and helping to raise awareness of an interesting aspect of Tawa's history."

The original trees were part of an orchard developed from the 1860s by William and Elizabeth Earp, who were one of the largest landowners in Tawa Flat. The couple came to Wellington in 1854, cleared bush and established a sheep farm. Their homestead, Boscobel, was built about 1860 on what is now the site of the Bucket Tree Lodge. The house is no longer standing but the now-famous bucket tree that William planted in front of the house is still there along with the remains of the orchard he established behind it.

The apple trees were grown from cuttings by the Council's Berhampore Nursery with specialist assistance from a Nelson nursery. Council staff also plan to take cuttings from the other historic trees at the park, including a fig and walnut.

The Council's Environment Portfolio Leader, Councillor Celia Wade-Brown, says the Council is working to create second generation trees from the city's significant heritage trees because old trees unfortunately don't last forever.

"As well as the Tawa fruit trees, we are growing pine varieties from the originals planted in the Botanic Garden and seedlings from the heritage kowhai in Tory Street that was deliberately destroyed in 2005," she says. "We have also taken cuttings from the historic oak tree up the Plimmer Steps and plan to do the same with the magnolia outside the Rita Angus cottage in Thorndon."

Cr Wade-Brown says that as well as the historic aspect of Tawa fruit trees, she is interested in community gardens and orchards and keen to hear what others think of the idea of planting more food-producing plants on public land.