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Good Sorts: Meet the man cultivating rare orchids for four decades on public New Plymouth pathway

For four decades, John Dodunski has cultivated a secluded part of a public New Plymouth pathway - all of them rare orchids.

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For four decades, John Dodunski has cultivated a secluded part of a public New Plymouth pathway. Source: 1 NEWS

"Sometimes I have to consult my books to make sure I have the right name," Dodunski told 1 NEWS.

"When you see how tiny the seed is, you think, 'How the hell is that going to survive?'"

He started with orchids before realising he had done so, explaining, "I actually grew orchids as a kid and didn’t realise they were orchids."

Now he cultivates them from little dots in test tubes, before graduating to petri dishes in his home-made incubator.

The secret? Agar, fertiliser and a banana.

Dodunski loves growing endangered varieties, adding, "A lot of plants have been saved by people growing them."

He then gives them away.

"Once I’ve seen them flower, you think, 'Well, I know what they look like now,' so you give them away."

A short stroll away from his home is a walkway full of orchids which flower for a fleeting moment once a year.

He said while one of the council workers call him the "caretaker of the Te Henui," he would prefer to shy away from the limelight.

Dodunski wouldn't mind some company, however.

"I wish I did have a small group that thought the same as me," he said.

And a hand with the weeds.

"What a curse these pest weeds are."