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Experiencing the IPPS Propagator's Scholarship

Experiencing the IPPS Propagator's Scholarship

Liza Whalley was awarded an IPPS Propagator's Scholarship ... she reports on her experience.

As a young person in the horticulture industry, it's common to hear that horticultural groups are not much more than 'old men talking about plants'.. and to some extent this is true!

Having been involved in horticulture almost from conception, I appreciate why this may be the impression, but I was lucky enough to attend the 2008 IPPS Conference in Auckland, where I met and mingled with people from all sorts of horticultural enterprises to help change my mind! As I sat in the back of a bus with Gus Evans, Philip Smith and Jeff Elliott, we tossed around the idea of using Manuka honey on difficult to root cuttings… and there the idea for Sweet Roots was born!

I began playing around with honey and media at Taupo Native Plant Nursery, where I was employed as Assistant Propagator, and with Juliette Curry, began to file results. In November I was awarded the IPPS Propagators Scholarship which took me to Hobart for the 2009 Conference. There, I got up in the lecture theatre and delivered my rather non-scientific results from an experiment I carried out using honey as a rooting media for NZ native plants, and it was incredible!

Having never left NZ before, the idea of heading overseas was awesome, and being in Hobart with such neat people to talk about plant stuff was a major eye-opener for me! I thoroughly enjoyed seeing the nurseries and meeting the people behind them during the conference, and have been inspired to delve more into research and experimenting with propagating, and with plenty of support from Kiwis and Aussies alike!

Being a young person stepping into the world of plants, I am continually so grateful for the support and assistance that the older generation is so willing to hand out. I am not aware of any other line of career that is so sharing and encouraging! It isn't a majorly popular choice for young adults to be out in the weather playing with dirt everyday and loving it, but I sure do and it is really important to pass that knowledge on.

Having been a recipient of the Young Propagators Scholarship, I am now confident that I have a great start on a path to propagating in the future, and I am very grateful to the IPPS community for the opportunity to share my ideas with the plant world! Special thanks have to be mentioned to Shirley Ogilvy, Philip Smith, Eddie Welsh, Jeff Elliott, Juliette Curry, Murray Mannell and Gus Evans for all their support, encouragement and various ways of helping me throughout my first step into the wonderful world of IPPS.

I am now employed at Oratia Native Plants in West Auckland, and being mentored in my interesting experimental adventures by Geoff Davidson. Currently I have another honey trial underway, and I have developed an unlikely interest in Urtica sp., of which I have been stung, scratched and spat at. I am not yet deterred!