Delphiniums, family and fun

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Pollinators Wanted

Ok, this is it. Spring in New Zealand doesn't hang around. The plum blossom is over, the peach almost finished, apples just starting and the fruits on the native Puriri tree are turning red. Wood pigeons will soon be getting drunk on them.

It is clearly time to panic - the first delphinium spikes have buds in them already! This season will be a big one as we are building another 900 square metre plastic growing house which we hope to fill with delphiniums for pollination and have a seed crop from them. We are also renewing the covers on our old houses (one out of two are complete) which are already filling up with mother stock for the first pollination. The images show the old plastic, covered with pine pollen, being removed.

To complicate matters a little we have agreed to supply a couple of hundred flowering delphiniums in 8 litre pots in and around the time of the Ellerslie Flower Show in mid November. Our mail order sales of young delphinium plants have been good this spring and we are looking forward to October when many gardeners in New Zealand have nursed their existing borders and are looking for a new challenge...gotta have more delphiniums!

The main focus of our attention however is ensuring that we have sufficient parent plant material for our pollination and that the female parents are matched by male parents that will flower at the same time - sometimes a worry. It is also important that we recruit half a dozen good pollinators, usually students, over the summer. Being seasonal work it is difficult to retain staff from year to year and every new season is a challenge.

What makes this even more interesting is that although new pollinators are all trained the same way and appear to do the work in the same fashion, results vary markedly. Although apparently a mundane job our best pollinators have traditionally been very intelligent people with a genuine interest in horticulture. If you are very intelligent, and you obviously are if you're reading this, and would like a few month's playing with flowers in New Zealand then why not give me a call 64 6 3421733. Age doesn't matter as long as you're seventeen or over.

Ok, tis spring and I'm needed outside


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