When we originally started planting our New Zealand indigenous collection in the area known as Orakei it was done with minimal clearance of the existing cover of Kanuka. Having been grazed up until planting there was little understory apart from native stinging nettle Onga Onga.
Over the last five years or so, not only has the understory, mainly Mahoe, flourished, but also many of the plantings, especially the Southern Beeches, Nothofagus spp. Such was the rate of growth of the Nothofagus it had got to the stage where the growth and form of some trees was being seriously affected by the existing cover; with “butt sweep” caused by the plant searching for light the most prominent.
It would be fair to say that although we had some idea that in the right conditions the Beeches can grow quite quickly, the speed of the growth took us somewhat by surprise. Growth of these trees is being monitored, with some reaching in excess of three metres in their fifth year.
George has spent a good few months (and a new chainsaw) thinning out the Kanuka and clearing the understory to rectify things. This has also made some room for new plantings such as those by the schools who visited in conservation week.