Episode 28: Out on a Limb
On the next episode, screening 28 September at 7pm on TV ONE:
Episode 28, Out on a Limb
When Diane Coleman started growing native plants near Rotorua 17 years ago, she had no idea it would blossom into a full-time business.
In that first year, Diane sold all the plants she could grow and she has worked hard to keep up with demand ever since.
“I was happy to work part time and make a small income growing a few plants,” she says.
But as native plants became more popular, Diane’s Treeline native plant nursery at Kaharoa kept expanding. “We’ve had to move the fence lines outwards a few times over the years.”
This energetic businesswoman now employs nine people – including her husband, John Coleman.
“John is our ideas man at the nursery,” she says. “The job is very physical and John is always coming up with inventive ways to ease our workload.”
John is the only male on the staff but takes the tea-break conversations amongst the all-women team in his stride.
“John calls it the chook house,” Diane says. “When it all gets too much, he heads out on his deliveries.”
Every autumn, Diane and her staff source seed from local stands of bush for use at the nursery.
“It’s a great day out. We all get very excited when we come across a manuka bush or a pittosporum tree laden with seeds, because that’s our next year’s crop.”
The seeds are carefully labeled with information so Diane can verify the plant’s origin when it is sold.
Most of Diane’s clients are regional councils and farmers who want native plants to restore gullies and revegetate areas around waterways.
Diane uses the cycles of the moon in her nursery work.
“We have an old Allied Farmers lunar calendar which tells you when to plant and take cuttings,” she says. For instance she’s found plants propagate better if they sow seeds 10 days after the new moon.
“If you sow seeds on the wrong days, you can end up with weak seed and the plants will never do well.”
This year has been full of milestones for Diane.
Staff at the Treeline Nursery have grown and sold a record 350,000 native plants. That achievement was topped off when Diane was named the supreme winner of the 2013 Enterprising Rural Women Award.
Diane lives by a saying she heard early in her career: “Don’t be afraid to go out on a limb because that is where the fruit is.”
To find out more, visit: www.treelinenursery.co.nz
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