US Hills Are Alive to NZ Flora
“We call it the New Zealand dead look,” says horticultural manager, David Zuckerman, of Seattle’s Washington Park Arboretum new garden, New Zealand Forests. As a marketing statement about the attractiveness of Kiwi flora, Zuckerman’s remark leaves a lot to be desired, particularly when he feels the need to reassure American media to “trust us; all these plants are alive”.
But what Zuckerman lacks in tact, he makes up for in enthusiasm: “This will be an experience like no other.” So good is the Kiwi forest experience, Zuckerman believes that “now there’s no need to get on a plane to New Zealand”. A belief not shared by the New Zealand Tourism Board, presumably.
But the New Zealand Forest is a big deal, the most ambitious new garden attempted by the Arboretum since the Great Depression.
Beech forests, shrub lands and grasslands, each representing actual plant communities found in the mid-to-high South Island latitudes, are spread over 1ha. The forest is part of the Arboretum’s “Pacific Connections” series of gardens and will eventually encompass 5.6ha and feature 10,000 New Zealand plants.
As for the “dead look,” these are the contorted, “twiggy” New Zealand corokia and brown-toned carexes shrubs, plants never before seen in the US Northwest. It will be years before the present garden grows into anything resembling a forest but nature lovers are already enthused about the vast scale of the project.
As Zuckerman says, Arboretums are not just about a pleasant walk in the park; they perform an important conservation role in keeping global genetic diversity alive.