Fernery staffer to get tips from US experts

BLANTON SMITH
Last updated 05:00 02/09/2014

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Horticulturist Donna Christiansen will swap the Fernery for a garden the size of a Kiwi farm when she heads to the United States today.

Christiansen is off to Pennsylvania where she will spend six weeks training at Longwood Gardens, a botanical garden spread across an area 10 times the size of Pukekura Park.

"It's 10,077 acres, which is quite a bit bigger than here," she said.

Having worked in the Fernery for eight years, Christiansen said she was looking forward to exploring Longwood's huge indoor gardens.

"They have four acres of glasshouses filled with orchids, tropical plants and water lilies. They even have 1000 blooming chrysanthemums," she said.

The trip was set up after a team from Longwood visited New Plymouth.

"They said if anyone wanted to do some training over there they would oblige.

"I'll be learning about how they grow the plants for the big displays and about all the feeding, maintenance and pest management," she said.

As well as learning new techniques for growing and maintaining plants, Christiansen hoped to established a rapport with Longwood to encourage exchange programmes.

Christiansen, whose favourite flower is a fuchsia, said she had been a professional gardener for "too many decades".

"I started gardening in the 80s. I co-owned a garden centre, have worked in Australia and for the council a few times over the years."

And although she spends all day surrounded by plants her home garden is "low maintenance".

"It's a lot of natives and shrubs. I don't do a lot at home."

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