Sunday, September 25, 2016

Yes, I am campaigning!

Rather than take the plastic fluteboard billboard route that every other prospect for council seems to have done, I chose to go poster and employ Phantom Billstickers to plaster my image all over town. They certainly didn't shy away from mass pasting! Here I am, standing beside my posters, nearby to the Tuatara Backpackers. I guess this form of advertising will appeal to a different set than the one that reads The Southland Times, but whether they will vote, or vote for me, having seen me all over their streets, is another matter. In any case, it's fun! Those trousers though, are not really fit for town, but I'd just finished a grafting workshop in Otatara and had wiped pruning paste on them several times :-)

Riverton Community Forest Garden - late afternoon

In Geoff's garden

The cowslips are flowering but there's still no leaf on the birches. Some of the apples are presenting newly unfurled leaves and there are daffodils everywhere.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Plum blossom on display

I read that the leaf buds on the grapevines in Marlborough are well advanced and saw from the image that indeed they are well ahead of our tightly-furled ones. Never mind, we have water. Our plum blossoms though, are fully on display, as you can see. Bees are visiting, and yesterday I watched the swarms of hoverflies large and tiny, feeding from the alexanders growing in the understorey. I'm amazed how quickly those bienniels go from rosettes of leaves to tall columns of flower. The pollinators love them, and so do I. We are all visiting the plum trees often.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Monowai Village Heritage Orchard Park

It now exists! After two days of digging and planting, around 40 apple trees sit comfortably at the edge of the wee village near Lake Monowai, in the gentle and ongoing care of the villagers and destined to become a marvelous picnicking spot for them and the many tourists who visit the village over summer. The trees were all sourced as scions from the farms and stations stretching from Clifden to Manapouri and they are special for that, their antiquity and the history they represent. It took 6 years of collecting, grafting, planting and management to get them to where they are now growing and we are pretty proud to have made it happen. There are 3 more collections to go out from the "holding orchard" at West Plains and the season is closing on us. Wish us luck!

What drilling gets us

Here's a screenshot of the electronic version of today's letter to the editor of the Southland Times (original text below). I enjoyed the advert for "gasfitters and plumbers" they positioned to the top-right.

 That's what the National Party politicians are being called after they revealed plans to open up vast areas of New Zealand, including Southland, for oil and gas drilling.
 Our Western Southland block is being dangled in front of the noses of the oil men, in the hope that they'll come here and set up their drilling and fracking rigs on our farmland, taking oil and gas out from storage underground so it can be burned and turned to greenhouse gas, further worsening the effects of climate change which already threatens farming everywhere. 

Thursday, September 22, 2016

You say punui, I say bunui

Stilbocarpa Lyalii. I  have this megaherb growing in my garden. That's where I took the photo. I brought a seedling back from the titi islands, when I was there (obviously :-) It has grown here, and multiplied, for almost a decade. 

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Southland Times candidate profile

Robert Guyton
Writer, Forest Gardener, Orchardist.

Councilor, Environment Southland

I like Southland's weather. The changeability and variety of our climate is a good thing. It means there are plenty of surprises from one day to another. If you have outdoor work to be done, it's best to get onto it soon as possible, in case the weather turns. Our weather's a great motivator.

My favourite meal is breakfast and I love scrambled eggs. Everybody does them differently. Mine are more like an omlete, but my wife's are as fluffy as clouds. Fresh parsley from the garden makes all scrambled eggs magnificent.

The regional council is heavy with farmers. Council decisions favour farming at the expense of the environment, in my view. I challenge proposals that lead to the expansion of farming and the loss of natural places and resources, like fresh water. Representatives of the towns and city like me have to speak up on every issue that would turn the countryside into one big farm, because we all need forests and rivers to visit and enjoy. In any case, our drinking water comes from there, so it mustn't get polluted.

Heritage fruit trees returned to Tuatapere community

Ten years after cuttings were taken from fruit trees in Tuatapere, 34 heritage fruit trees were returned to the community.

The Open Orchard project, which is run by Robyn and Robert Guyton, gifted 34 heritage apple trees to the Tuatapere community which were planted at the Tuatapere Domain on Tuesday.

Tuatapere Community Board deputy chair Anne Horrell said the heritage trees were grown from cuttings taken from Tuatapere orchards.

Robyn Guyton approached the community board 18 months ago offering to give them the heritage fruit trees which had been grown from the cuttings taken from the area, Horrell said.

"All we needed to do is provide the ground, workers and labour."

The trees they have been growing for the past eight years was in anticipation of this moment when they would be returned, she said.

Representatives from the community board and students and teachers from the Waiau Area School helped with the planting.

"It was really, really great."

Now Tuatapere residents would be able to go to the park and pick fruit to eat, Horrell said.

Descendants of the Erskine family, who were the first to settle in the area were at the ceremony.

Several of the cuttings came from the Erskine family orchard, Horrell said

Robyn Guyton said the cuttings were taken from orchards in the Tuatapere ten years ago as part of the Open Orchard project.

Most of the trees will have blossom within the next two weeks and there would be fruit later this season, she said.

All of the trees planted were different varieties of apple and next year they would return to plant another 15 trees, she said.

On Wednesday the Monowai Village community will be doing the same as they were gifted 40 trees as part of the Southland-wide Orchard Parks network.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016


Robyn hasn't even read the book and knows what we mean! 40 of these and the sun beat down on us!

Monday, September 19, 2016


They're everywhere right now. Enjoy them while you can.

Blisters from digging

That's what you get. Nothing a little axle-grease and a cotton bandage won't fix!