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The Gisborne Photo News



Bananas Thrive At Ormond

Write down the names of all the trees on Mr Len Grey's Waimarae Orchard, at Ormond, and you'll have a first-class recipe for a tropical fruit-salad.

The very titles of the plants conjure up visions of hula skirts, palm fronds, and lilting guitars.

Growing tropical fruits on his 22-acre orchard is more than just a business to Mr Grey. He takes great pride in proving that paw-paws, custard apples — yes, even bananas — can thrive in Gisborne's sunny climate.

The proof, of course, is in the eating. And when Photo Newsmen called at the orchard, they discovered thrilling new flavours they hadn't dreamed existed. Take the paw-paw tree, for instance, pictured on the opposite page. The fruit reminds one of the passion fruit, yet there is a trace of pineapple, too.

Then there's the "fruit salad" vine — "the monstera deliciosa" — pictured below. The fruit is a combination of many flavours, and the plant itself is highly valued for its ornamental beauty.


No pampered, hot-house fruit, these bananas ripen in Gisborne sun


.... a dozen flavours in a single fruit.


Mr Grey holds bulb-like banana flower. Behind him are tree-tomato plants


Mr Grey grows many of his sub-tropical plants — and there are dozens of varieties — just as a hobby, but he plans to produce others commercially.

He believes there will be a good market for custard apples — "cherimoyas" — pictured right. Natives of Central America, they have rich, creamy centres and a flavour which suggests a mixture of pineapples, bananas and oranges.

At present he has only a few 10-year-old trees, but 400 young seedlings are steadily growing.

The trees are hardy and attractive.


Custard apples grow well in Ormond soil and Gisborne sunshine


Moist with dew, this banana flower makes striking close-up picture. The fruit is formed as sheaths open, one after another, each day for a fortnight


Forty years ago, Waimarae Orchard grew conventional fruits like peaches and pears, with only a little citrus. During the last 20 years, through inter-planting and culling, Mr Grey has removed stone-fruit trees and devoted the entire acreage to citrus and sub-tropical fruit.

He has now 1300 lemon trees, yielding 4000 cases of fruit a year. One thousand of the trees are less than 10 years old. As they develop the yield will double.

He also has 500 orange trees, most of them Washington navels. Careful grafting and bud selection has produced the type often termed the "Gisborne orange". They are well known throughout New Zealand.


"Scamp" finds grapefrait good substitute for a rubber ball


Mr Grey prunes lemon trees to leave room for picking from the inside. Fruit is picked over many months as it ripens.


Unusual tree is a white sapote, which Mr Grey will develop commercially. Each fruit weighs around 1lb, has juicy-pear flavour. Smaller tree in foreground is mandarin.


Juicy Washington navel oranges awaiting picker


Mr Grey is the only orchardist in N.Z who grows highly-valued avocados on a commercial scale.

He has 560 avocado trees, most of which have yet to come into full production.

Big avocados fetch up to 4/6 each. Rich in protein & minerals, they are used in vegetable salads or as a sandwich spread.

From one tree alone, Mr Grey has picked half a ton of avocados in a season. The yield from that single tree covered the expenses of an air trip to Sydney for his daughter, Dawn.

Even when ready to pick, avocados won't deteriorate if left on the tree for months

Those in picture are round, but most are pear-shaped.


Bruce Grey likes avocados best of all the fruits in the orchard. He is pictured with the tree which paid the cost of his sister's air trip to Australia.


Picking avocados are Mr Grey, John Johnston, and Bill Bell


Mrs Grey sprinkles salt on freshly-cut avocado