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Case fifteen

W. B. Brockie, New Zealand alpines in field and garden. Christchurch: Caxton Press, 1945.Bra 463/BV16.
W. B. Brockie, New Zealand alpines in field and garden. Christchurch: Caxton Press, 1945.
Bra 463/BV16.

New Zealand natives

Walter Boa Brockie (1897-1972) was the curator of the Otari Open-air Native Plant Museum from 1947 to 1962, following Leonard Cockayne (1926-1934). He had a special interest in alpine plants, having worked with James McPherson on the development of the Christchurch Botanic Gardens' rock garden in the late 1930s. His booklet New Zealand Alpines in Field and Garden (1945) reflected this expertise.

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Muriel Fisher's comprehensive Gardening with New Zealand Plants, Shrubs and Trees (1970) prepared with E. Satchell and Janet M. Watkins, marked a turning point in gardeners' attitudes to native plant cultivation as conservation of endangered species of flora and fauna became a public issue. Muriel Fisher was a school teacher, and with her husband William built up a huge collection of more than 700 native plants on their Birkenhead section, eventually setting up a native plant nursery. They showed that even suburban gardeners could make a difference. Her second book was New Zealand Ferns in Your Garden (1976). Both of these books have been reprinted several times.

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Lawrence J. Metcalf (1928-) has also produced detailed guidebooks on growing native plants, starting with his Cultivation of New Zealand Trees and Shrubs (1972), and later focussing on smaller plants, alpines, grasses, and ferns. His career in professional horticulture involved work at leading nurseries in New Zealand and England, and later employment at the Christchurch Botanic Gardens (1955-1977) where he built up the New Zealand plant section. Like Muriel Fisher, he is a committed conservationist and communicator.

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