Washbourne Gardens, Nelson

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    Just catching up on some of the correspondence in my mailbag – have responded to the author but thought I’d share the info.

    I have recently been made aware that there are certain trees in the Washbourn Gardens park , in Richmond, Nelson, where the monarch butterflies have chosen to overwinter.

    They include a rimu, Griselinia littoralis and Kahikatea, near to the smaller side entrance on Oxford St.

    Decades ago these trees would have been smothered in overwintering monarchs, and historical records mention a tree in the Nelson Cathedral grounds which was especially favoured by the butterflies in the late 1950s. http://www.ento.org.nz/nzentomologist/free_issues/NZEnto03_3_1964/Volume%203-3-10-16.pdf

    Sadly, the numbers to be found at Washbourn gardens are small, but it is still a treat to watch them fly off the trees when the sun has warmed them enough to go and feed.

    The decline in numbers probably has a lot to do with available nectar and I noticed today that they are mainly flying to the Camellia shrubs which are flowering

    It occurred to me that it would be worthwhile to ask the park gardeners to consider planting more shrubs that have nectar-bearing flowers during the winter, so that the monarchs will be encouraged to continue using the park to overwinter in. I have suggested this to the head of the Tasman District Council Parks and Reserves department, and hope that something will be done, because it would be a great shame to lose them altogether. I shall have to remember to also ask the park gardeners not to spray insecticides on flowering plants in the park.

    I have written a letter to the editor of the Nelson Mail, so that might also spur the powers that be to take action.

    I have been told that the pink flowering Cestrum is a good winter flowerer for the monarchs. What other ones would you suggest?


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