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Psuedowintera colorata 'Burgundy Delight
Photo by Neale McLanachan

Rewilding with Ribbonwood

Suzanne Middleton, Wild Dunedin —

“People are realising that we’ve been cutting down native forest and draining wetlands for the last 150 years and it’s time to put something back. It’s captured the popular imagination.” Phil Dunn of Ribbonwood Nurseries

Phil and Lyn Dunn started Ribbonwood Nurseries in Glenelg St Dunedin 35 years ago and they’ve been quietly growing and selling native plants ever since. Recently, New Zealand native plants have become so popular with home gardeners, farmers, local bodies, schools and other organisations, that Ribbonwood’s turnover has doubled in four years.

Lynn and Phil Dunn, owners of Ribbonwood Nurseries... they've never been busier! — Image by: Suzanne Middleton

Their customers range from home gardeners planting their very first natives through to the extremely knowledgeable. They offer expert advice on all aspects of native plants, either locally sourced ones suitable for re-establishing local native forest, or plants from all over Aotearoa including the islands, suitable for home gardens.

As Phil says,

 “The plants we have here are really cool, not found anywhere else in the world, and they make great landscape plants. At the end of the day they look good.”
Leptinella ‘Catlins Form’..all in rows at Ribbonwood Nurseries. — Image by: Neale McLanachan

Lynn says that they have a lot of customers who are botanists and real enthusiasts, and people often ask them to grow on plants that they have collected out tramping. They grow unusual plants like weeping broom and many small specialised alpine plants too. They’re always on the lookout for different natives.

The most consistent sellers for the home garden are lancewoods, kowhai, rata, pohutukawa, rock daisies and hebes. And now people are also looking for plants suitable for lizard habitat like ground cover coprosmas and other shrubs with berries, nectar and dangling fruit.

Fuchsia excorticata is the world's largest growing fuchsia with nectar filled flowers followed by dark purple fruit, making it a great food source for birds. — Image by: Neale McLanachan

It gives Phil and Lynn a lot of satisfaction to see the growing popularity of native plants, and also the increase in the use of their Māori names. Phil sees it like this “It’s part of our growing maturity as a nation that we recognise what we have here is valuable”.

Ribbonwood Nurseries have been longtime supporters of Wild Dunedin, and next year they will offering an open day within our festival programme.  However, Lynn and Phil and the team are available at any time of the year to have a chat and give advice about planting natives in your home garden. They can be found at 4 Ronay Street (off Glenelg St via Stone Street/Kaikorai Valley roundabout).  

Check out their facebook for stories and inspiring images of plants https://www.facebook.com/ribbonwoodnatives/