It was a random question, asked over a quiet beer. But Nick Patterson from LGS has a good gut instinct because he spotted the potential. That’s the short story of how TerraCottem arrived in New Zealand. Here’s the longer version…
Always on the look out for relevant additions to the Landscape and Growers Supplies catalogue, Nick was at a local (Auckland) meeting of Landscape New Zealand where he was having a chat with Hayden Sefonte. “Hayden had been working for HEB Construction in Perth where he’d come across TerraCottem. He’d done street tree plantings and revegetation in Western Australia’s tough climate and said he wouldn’t plant without it. Except that now that he was back in New Zealand, he couldn’t get hold of it.” Nick had to disappoint him and admit LGS didn’t currently stock TerraCottem.
An endorsement like Hayden’s – with no agenda other the desire to get hold of something that works – triggered Nick to make a few phone calls. First to Belgium, and then to the nearest TerraCottem distributors, in Australia. Despite Christmas being in the way, by the time a fresh 2017 rolled in, the Australians had paid a visit and LGS were officially appointed New Zealand distributors.
Without going into too much detail, TerraCottem acts as a buffer, reducing stress between water events. It’s proven in hot, dry Australia… so you could be forgiven for wondering how it could offer benefit in New Zealand where the rain falls all the time. As it turns out, the rain doesn’t fall all the time. “Yes we have a lot of rain, but mostly it falls in winter and we’re facing more dry spells, especially in the South Island. We’ve certainly had stretches as long as 45 days – long enough to stress plantings and one council was quoting they’d suffered a 25% loss.” Add to this a catch 22 scenario, with winters so wet, in some settings it’s actually too wet to plant so the soft window for establishment ends up being very tight as the dry NZ summer rocks on in. “It turns out our climate’s not that dissimilar to parts of coastal New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland and Tasmania.”
It’s early days yet, but TerraCottem has gone into the NZ ground, in a few different locations and scenarios, with a fair amount of interest. “Everyone’s keeping a close eye on things.” Anecdotal results are looking very promising as well as early stats from formal monitoring. Watch this space for when more comes to hand. It’s good news to know that anyone in New Zealand can now get their hands on TerraCottem.