“The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.”
Certain liberties for time scale notwithstanding, this Chinese proverb is one that is being taken to heart at Manfeild Park.
The Manawatu’s most diverse events centre is going back to its roots; more exactly, in giving a green-fingered refresh to its trees and plants, especially those that border the facility’s main thoroughfare from South St, Feilding.
Nature has not been wholly kind to the mainly Native specimens lining Brendon Hartley Drive, the boulevard celebrating the locally-born international motorsport star’s links with Manfeild’s Circuit Chris Amon.
Caption: Manfeild chief executive Kathy Gibson and Manfeild Park Trust board member Rod Titcombe with one of the Totaras he donated to the venue in 2009.
Accordingly, chief executive Kathy Gibson has initiated a revitalisation programme.
First priority is to lend urgent attention to more than 20 centrepiece Totara trees along the precinct in 2009.
“The entrance is the first people see of our wonderful facility and you only get one opportunity to make a good first impression,” says this keen gardener.
“We see opportunity to create something that is more special than it presently is.”
More trees and plants, in better surroundings with improved soil condition and more ongoing care is the aim. Some original low plants will be replaced with others more suited to withstand the environmental conditions specific to the site, but as before the emphasis will be using Natives.
An arborist has already begun tending to the Totaras and, though it seems several might yet have to be replaced, most are already looking all the better for reshaping.
The programme is heartening for Rod Titcombe, a Manfeild Park Trust board member who has particular association with two of the trees, as these were a leaving gift presented to him by Horizons Regional Council when he retired in June 2009 as Manawatu District Council chief executive.
Receiving the then saplings to mark a remarkable 39 years’ service to local Government was a wonderful tribute, but left he and his wife, Jean, with a dilemma as they were between homes at that time.
“It was lovely to get the trees, but we just didn’t have anywhere to put them.”
Fortunately, at that very moment the initial Manfeild planting was beginning under the watch of Albert James, the parks and reserves manager of the time.
A figure whose efforts were instrumental to Feilding being named New Zealand’s most beautiful town, he suggested the Titcombe trees would do well adjacent to the venue’s gates – and so it has proved. Today ‘Rod’ and ‘Jean’ are easily the tallest and healthiest of the lot.
“We were delighted to see our trees there – as it happened, the property we finally found would not have suited anyway – and are delighted about the exciting plans for the gardens.”
With Totara trees able to live for up to 1800 years, the venues’ specimens look set to be long-term neighbours for Manfeild’s oldest tree, an impressive English Oak (Quecus), thought to be at least 110 years old.
Likely to have been planted to provide shade over the blacksmith’s workshop when a horse racing course that subsumed into the general property years ago, was set out, this magnificent landmark is also set to receive some TLC.
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