Finding the hidden treasures in Tradescantia

A native “Shaking brake” fern sporeling growing in Tradescantia

Almost every gardener knows Tradescantia ( Tradescantia fluminensis, aka Wandering Willie, etc). And many of them see it as a curse.

However, seedlings released from Tradescantia by careful handweeding usually include both natives and invasives, and they flourish in the humus created by decomposing Tradescantia.

The mahoe, toatoa, ti kouka, karamu and karo seedlings in the photos below are just a few of the thousands of native seedlings and sporelings we have found while handweeding Tradescantia in the Kaipatiki suburban area.

It is true that Tradescantia is relentless – though slow – in its growth, covering vast areas if unchecked, suppressing the natural regeneration of diverse native plants in wild habitats.

It is also true that it takes strategy and care to remove it completely and compost it to its extinction.

Above: Dense Tradescantia handgathered into piles for decomposition in place. Handweeding was begun furthest in the background, where the Tradescantia has been replaced by native regeneration 1-2 metres high.

Newly-piled Tradescantia around the cabbage tree is still green, while work has just begun on the area in the foreground.

Both before and after handweeding, Tradescantia’s leaves build up a loose humus-rich soil, and as a moisture-retaining ground cover it nurses seedlings and sporelings, which flourish if they are released to light at an appropriate time, and provided the soil is not allowed to dry out.

The humus and seedlings together provide for perfect regeneration of a native habitat if the Tradescantia is controlled methodically and carefully to its final eradication from an area, which can take a year or two as hidden stems emerge.

Below, June 2020: young toatoa (Haloragis erecta) seedlings, among the remnants and regrowth of Tradescantia after handweeding.

Many of these toatoa grew to a metre high here, helping revegetate a bank left bare by the removal of honeysuckle and dense Tradescantia.

Below, April 2021: The same bank, the toatoa on the right in foreground and midground. The young karamu, mahoe and ti kouka trees survived prolonged drought , sheltered and shaded by the shrubby toatoa that emerged spontaneously after handweeding of a major weed invasion which was followed by Tradescantia.

The image comparison below shows the same area during Tradescantia control in the foreground, as far as the tall ti kouka centre background. (The area beyond was left covered in Tradescantia for a few more years to avoid dessication and weed invasions more difficult to control, such as Creeping buttercup and Paspalum).

Drawing on our experience and photo records of handweeding for ecological restoration, we look forward to illustrating more examples as time permits.

In the meantime, you can see a description of our general methodology here.

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Ruru seen at Kendalls Bay

I have been reading up on ruru, after a friend shared this photo of the ruru they saw recently at Kendalls Bay. 

I wondered why it was visible in the daytime, and also whether they need large old trees with holes for their nests. 

Apparently they hunt mainly in the early night and early morning, and sometimes at dusk and dawn, particularly in bad weather. And they nest in any tree large enough to have hollows).

There are some excellent recordings and photos….including one in Hillcrest, and one in Mairangi Bay…at…

Transform your garden to a low-maintenance haven with chemical-free weed control

Having been providing our chemical-free garden restoration services for 6 months now, we have been delighted to experience a range of outdoor environments, advised gardeners and non-gardeners alike on our unique methodology, and seen them enjoy the results.

Some have been short-term restorations, recovering a well-planned garden from just a few years of weed invasion.

Others are long-term projects, creating the conditions for the desired plants to succeed, and for easy weed control in the future.

If you are finding your garden hard to manage, through lack of time or difficult conditions, we offer a thorough site assessment in which we will listen to your needs and wishes, with identification of both weeds and any unrecognised free, wild and low maintenance plants… including hidden gems like the native tree seedlings, kahikatea and tanekaha, discovered this week and seen below:

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Invitation to a walk along the edge of the woods

Gardeners, nature watchers and ecological restorationists may like to join us in a guided tour of the ridgetop margin of Eskdale Forest, along the mown kikuyu edge of Eskdale Reserve where a white tape cordon marks the Gahnia Grove restoration project.

If you have a ready-made small group, we can schedule an hour to suit you, at a cost of $90 for the group.

Otherwise, email or message us your availability and interests, and we will see what can be organised.

From requests we have had so far, the focus for a tour could be

– efficient and effective control of environmental weeds without chemicals, especially kikuyu (beyond the mown area, which is controlled ny mowing)

– free wild native groundcovers and leafy shrubs

– how to recognise the free native tree seedlings which pop up in your garden or restoration site

Our website has some information and photos of all these, with more to come.

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Weeding for winter light

While shade is vital to the health of shade-loving plants and habitat, and can be life-saving in summer, there is no need to suffer the loss of light where unwanted weed masses have shut out the sun.

This is often the case with fast-growing trees like monkey apple, privet, tree privet and wattle, and vine weeds such as honeysuckle, pink jasmine, ivy and moth plant.

Where these weeds are among wanted trees and shrubs, the careful identification and removal of the weeds can open the area to gentle sunlight filtered through a leafy canopy, which will benefit from the winter light and fill out, so that no light has been lost by the time summer comes.

Where there is no wanted tall vegetation, removal of tall weeds will open the space to sun, so that a new, manageable ground cover or shrubbery can be established.

Call Jenny on 021 485 994, or email, for

– assessment of your situation, with identification of weeds and also of any native plants, including native vines such as kaihua (NZ native “jasmine”), puawhananga (NZ native Clematis), kohia (NZ native passionfruit vine), karaeo (supplejack), tataramoa (Bush lawyer) – as these can be attractive, easily controllable additions to your natural areas, as well as food sources for kereru and tui in winter.

– advice or action on releasing your site from weeds and, if wanted, turning them into compost and mulch during winter, to keep soil moist in summer and help suppress future weed invasions.

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about North Shore Wilds

The spelling … north shore wilds … is easy, but remember, if you have to type it into a search, it’s “wilds”…plural… and why, you ask?

Well, we are not proposing that the entire North Shore should be wild… (living in trees can be inconvenient)… just that our locally native species and the character of our local wild nature are conserved, recognised and enjoyed, and given a place in our gardens where possible.

“Wilds” is a term used informally to cover plants whose ancestry is entirely wild; ie they grew wild from wild parent plants, or were cultivated from seed collected from known wild plants in the ecological area in which they are to be planted…ie they are “ecosourced”.

We have been weeding to release the remnants of wild native plant communities in North Shore reserves and gardens since 1987, and ecosourcing seeds locally since 2003. We also pot up some of the wild native seedlings descended from the ecosourced trees, shrubs and groundcovers planted in our own garden, or brought by birds to our garden, which is on the edge of Eskdale Forest.

So, whether weeding, landscaping or growing plants in pots, we work only with “North Shore wilds”; plants with the genetic characteristics that evolved to make them perfect for their North Shore situation.

Our new landscape gardening business takes its name from the little plant nursery we operated commercially from about 2003 to 2006, ecosourcing only from the North Shore and selling mainly to North Shore City Council for local environmental restoration projects.

The wild native trees, sedges and grasses around the nursery never stopped reproducing, so we pot some up every year, giving them away or planting a few in our Gahnia Grove restoration project.

We are now once again growing a small range of ecosourced native plants for sale to our restoration and landscaping customers.

Unless otherwise noted, all photos on this website were taken by us on the North Shore of Auckland, mostly in the suburbs of Birkenhead/Birkdale/Hillcrest/Glenfield/Northcote, during our volunteer or commercial work or at our home in Glenfield.

Above: This pink flower is kotukutuku / NZ native tree fuchsia /Fuchsia excorticata, on an old tree which has overhung Kaipatiki Stream in Glenfield for several decades, (photo 2018 by Jacqui Geuz,

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