Trees of the world tribute has roots in Marlborough

Children joined in at the Taylor River planting event last year.
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Children joined in at the Taylor River planting event last year.

A riverside tribute to a leading horticulturist will spread its roots further at a special planting day.

The Ralph Ballinger Arboretum on the banks of the Taylor River in Blenheim is set to get more trees at the fourth Taylor River planting day.

The joint initiative between the Marlborough Landscape Group and Marlborough District Council celebrates "Trees of the World," which will see trees from countries across the globe planted along the riverbank.

The first planting event in 2014 saw  Marlborough Landscape Group members, from left, Helen Ballinger, Ralph Ballinger ...
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The first planting event in 2014 saw Marlborough Landscape Group members, from left, Helen Ballinger, Ralph Ballinger and chairman Peter Jerram take part.

Organisers hope members of the public will join them on Sunday to help plant trees from New Zealand and Australia.

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The concept was named in memory of former Blenheim man Ralph Ballinger (OBE) who was well-known nationwide for his commitment to horticulture.

The arboretum was Ralph's idea which continued to flourish after his death in 2015 at the age of 99-years-old. His daughter, Helen Ballinger, is an active member of the landscape group.

Co-ordinator Bev Doole says the long-term plan will see trees planted all the way along the popular Taylor River site.

"People seem to have quite a strong connection to the river and like that they can see a tree they planted progress over time.

"There's usually a good turnout of people across the age ranges. Grandparents bring their grandchildren along and lots of ages in between," she says.

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Ralph was born in 1915 in North Canterbury where he grew up. He studied at Lincoln University in Christchurch where he was awarded a Bachelor of Agricultural Science before joining the Royal Navy in 1940.

Ralph then carried out crop trials for seed company Yates for 25 years.

Bev says Ralph planted the first tree in the arboretum, a Japanese cherry tree. 

Around 300 native plants, grown from local seed sources, including coprosma, kowhai, flax and carex grasses will be planted next to the river.

"At the moment we are heading up to the Burleigh bridge from High St but in years to come we hope to have trees planted all the way up to the Taylor Dam," she says.

Anyone interested in attending the event should meet at the Monro Street car park in Blenheim at 10am. A spade per family and a sturdy pair of boots are required.

If wet, the planting will be postponed until October 1.

 - The Marlborough Express

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