Welcome to Issue 12 of the Wollemi Watch, a quarterly newsletter for Wollemi Pine enthusiasts everywhere.
In this issue, we are excited to announce the official release of the Wollemi Pine in the US. After years of research and trials, the Pine is now available via National Geographic. As Conservation Club members, we are offering you the chance to order yours before the public release! Read on to learn how to order one of the first US Wollemi Pines. Exciting international news is the recent planting of the Wollemi Pine by Prince Albert II of Monaco in France. On the home front, Lyn Bradley from the Wollemi nursery talks about all the fascinating features of the Wollemi Pine that we can watch out for in growing the Jurassic trees. We report on the creative displays from Wollemi retailers in Australia and remind Wollemi Pine owners that they should decorate their trees this festive season to create the ultimate living Christmas tree.
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Wollemi US Launch: Pre-release to Conservation Club members
The Wollemi Pine will be released in the US this October as part of a special offer by National Geographic with proceeds from sales to fund National Geographic mission programs, including support for botanical research and studies.
The eagerly anticipated release is scheduled to be announced on September 19 at National Geographic’s headquarters in Washington, DC and celebrated with a planting of a Wollemi Pine on the company grounds on September 22.
Prior to this exciting public announcement, Wollemi Pine Conservation Club Members will be given the chance to order in advance of the official release date. Only a limited supply of the coveted “dinosaur pine” will be available in this initial release, and it is expected to generate widespread demand.
The Pines will retail at $99.95 for an approximately 10” tall plant and will be available via the National Geographic Holiday Catalog (888-225-5647) and at the National Geographic online shop from November 15, 2006.
For Conservation Club members wishing to advance order, please click here to visit the National Geographic Wollemi site.
“The commitment to explore, conserve and educate is core to all of National Geographic’s endeavors,” said Krista Newberry, National Geographic vice president, licensing, soft lines. “We are excited to be involved in bringing the Wollemi Pine to North America and offering consumers here the chance to be a part of this incredible living history and help in ensuring the continued survival of this ancient tree.”
The Wollemi Pines have been made available in the US after extensive research and trials at leading botanical institutions across the country. Research has revealed that the Pines are capable of surviving a broad range of temperatures from 10 degrees F to 113 degrees F and have over-wintered in USDA hardiness zone 7.
About National Geographic
The National Geographic Society is one of the world’s largest nonprofit scientific and educational organizations. Founded in 1888 to “increase and diffuse geographic knowledge,” the Society today works to inspire people to care about the planet. It reaches more than 350 million people worldwide each month through its official journal, National Geographic, and four other magazines; National Geographic Channel; television documentaries; radio programs; films; books; videos and DVDs; maps; and interactive media. National Geographic has funded more than 8,000 scientific research projects and supports an education program combating geographic illiteracy. For more information, visit www.nationalgeographic.com.
Behind the Scenes: Lyn Bradley
Lyn Bradley is the Wollemi Nursery supervisor, based in Queensland, Australia. Lyn has been involved in the propagation and growing of the Wollemi Pine from the very beginning and has watched the little Jurassic beauties grow into green dinosaurs.
The Wollemi Nursery is like no other horticultural facility in Australia. It is part of the Forestry Plantations Queensland facility (formerly Queensland Department of Primary Industries Forestry) and is completely dedicated to growing the Wollemi Pine with enthusiastic staff who care for the Wollemi Pines like their own favourite pets.
Lyn’s favourite features of the Wollemi Pine are part of the exciting journey of discovery when growing your Wollemi Pine.
The Wollemi Pine has a habit of developing multiple stems called ‘coppicing’. We believe this may have evolved as a defence against drought, fire or rock fall in the steep canyons where it grows in the wild, thereby ensuring its survival. This means that your Wollemi Pine will spontaneously sprout new trunks and has a natural multi-stemmed form. The coppicing habit gives the Wollemi Pine an attractive bushy form compared to its single-stemmed conifer relatives. If would like your Wollemi Pine to be single stemmed, just prune these coppices as they appear.
The Wollemi Pine experiences a rapid growth flush as the warmer months approach, especially after fertiliser application. This amazing elongation of the apical stem can grow up to 50 cm vertically in a very short time (approximately a month) and is a natural feature of the plant. A few weeks after this elongation, the lateral buds develop and the branches begin to unfurl on both the primary and secondary shoots. This distinct new apple-green foliage contrasts with the older grey-blue foliage.
During the colder months, the Wollemi Pine becomes dormant and its growing buds develop an attractive white waxy coating with ruby pink lines. This protects its growing tips and is thought to have helped it survive many ice ages. When spring arrives, the caps melt away and the new growth bursts through. It is not uncommon for new buds (from one to multiple) to grow from beneath or through the polar cap.
For more information on the care of the Wollemi Pine, visit http://www.wollemipine.com/care_information.php.
The Royal "Wollemi"
The Wollemi Pine has found another home among royalty. Prince Albert II planted the Jurassic Tree at the gardens of St Martin at a special ceremony on September 6 with the help of the Australian Ambassador in France, Penelope Wensley and the Environment Minister of Monaco.
The Wollemi Pine is no stranger to royalty already gracing the grounds of Prince Akishino’s imperial palace in Japan. A celebrity in its own right, it has been planted by the Irish Prime Minister, Slovakian President and the world’s favourite Conservationist, Sir David Attenborough. The favourite Australian native conifer has also become a popular diplomatic gift with embassies in Taiwan, Austria, New Caledonia, and Brazil involved in planting activities to promote Australia’s rich natural history.
The status of the Wollemi Pine as a “VIP” (“Very Important Plant”) is now well entrenched in botanical circles and it is hoped that this worldwide fame will help Wollemi Australia’s aim of keeping it on the “A” list and off the “threatened” list for years to come.
Visit the French Wollemi Pine site for more information on other exciting launch activities: http://france.wollemipine.com/.
Wollemi Displays run "Wild"
Wollemi Pine retailers across Australia created some “wild” displays for the recent Retail Display Competition. The winner, The Heritage Nursery in Yarralumla (ACT), took their inspiration from the Wollemi Pine’s prehistoric past complete with live reptiles!
The team at The Heritage Nursery, Yarralumla (ACT) set the scene of their display…
“Perfect replicas of Leaellynasaura and Tyrannosaurus Rex rise from the ground and a Tropegnathus swoops from the sky recreating the Jurassic world. Enlarged and framed photographs of the Wollemi Pine and its habitat, the Wollemi National Park NSW, line the walls giving inspiration and glory to this rare and marvellous delight from Australia’s ancient times. Other plants from distant ages such as Cycads, Bromeliads, Bunya Pines accompany the historical Wollemi Pine. The glimpse into this prehistoric world is enhanced by caged pet lizards and turtles, descendants of the reptiles which occupied the era.”
The Heritage Nursery formed many unique and innovative partnerships with local businesses to bring together the display and the Wollemi experience. Some of these include:
- Dinosaur models from The National Dinosaur Museum
- Fossils from The Age of Fishes Museum
- Exotic Pets lent animals for the display
- RSPCA received a donation of $590 dollars which was raised during an exclusive auction which was attended by the nursery’s most valued customers as well as local television stations and newspapers.
“Outstanding Effort” awards went to Lincoln Greenery Garden Centre (NSW), Beaudesert Hardware (QLD) and Waldeck’s Kingsley (WA).
We encourage you to visit these great nurseries or to search for your local stockist in Australia on our web site.
The Ultimate Australian Christmas Tree
Since its release in Australia, the horticultural community has hailed the Wollemi Pine as not only a great container plant and feature tree, but also the perfect Christmas Tree.
The Pine has a natural conical shape and slightly pendulous branches that can support Christmas decorations. The large Wollemi Pines are well suited to pots so they can be easily used indoors year after year as the family's Christmas Tree and for the rest of the year they make a fantastic patio or balcony plant.
The trend in recent years is to use living Christmas trees rather than artificial or cut trees. That is, a tree with roots, to be used indoors for Christmas decoration and either kept in a pot to be reused every year or later planted in the garden. The trend is driven by people that like to watch their tree grow with their family and see it as a reminder of special Christmas occasions.
In Australia, advanced (4-5 year old) Wollemi Pines are available in a 430mm pot which range in height from 1.5-2.4m tall. These are magnificent looking plants for people that want a head start with their Wollemi Pine and an instant living Christmas tree. Enquire at your local stockists for availability of the 430mm - get in early for Christmas as stocks are limited.
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