Hope district will take to crimson trees

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by Al Williams

Canterbury to have its own version of the Kiwi Christmas tree.
Doug Cleveland successfully planted two Cleveland reds at his Timaru home and said he would like to see more of the trees planted around the region.
Mr Cleveland said the Cleveland red was propagated by his late brother, Les Cleveland, at his nursery in Mosgiel.
The Cleveland red was a combination of the southern rata and pohutukawa seeds, he said.
“Lesley would have cross-pollinated the southern rata and the pohutukawa. It took him 10 years of breeding to do it,” Mr Cleveland said.
The natural range of the pohutukawa, otherwise known as the New Zealand Christmas tree, is along coastal areas of the North Island, north of New Plymouth while the southern rata can be found in cooler areas with high rainfall, and is common on the West Coast of the South Island.
Mr Cleveland had planted the trees 15 years ago and both had matured into healthy trees.
“It is my intention to propagate these and share them with others.”
The Cleveland red, similar to the pohutukawa, flowered in early January each year, he said.
“You have to look after the cuttings for the first five years to protect them from frost. You have to cover them.”
“I think it would be great for Timaru to have its own version of the New Zealand Christmas tree.
“It would also give my brother his name.”
Les Cleveland died in 2013,
“I just hope that we can get it established in Timaru because the beauty of it and the hard work my brother put in to create it.
“I have a lot of people come and look at them.”
Timaru District Council parks and reserves manager Bill Steans idea of Timaru having its own version of the New Zealand Christmas tree and was aware of Mr Cleveland’s examples.
“They have a good flower and we would be happy to plant some,” Mr Steans said.