One garden, two houses, some lessons from the past and hope for the future. A look at life in New Zealand, a bit of history and a Morris jig or two.
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January 1, 2011
Happy New Camera
I'm still a film photographer at heart, but digital has its advantages... especially in the world of Blogging. And for a garden blog a macro lens is a must, so my Christmas present to myself is a Canon PowerShot SX30IS. The macro facility is automatic, and I love the mobile screen for viewing low subjects from a comfortable position, while photographing them. What a fantastic accessory for the arthritic gardener! But the truth is that I have hardly had a look-in, as eleven-year old Kitty is far more digital savvy than me and has been shooting nature movies and stop-frame animations without pause. She took the current title photo, that close-up of a rose, which I could only dream about with my previous pocket digital camera. It has taken until today to transfer the photos we've been taking, to the computer, and I needed teenaged Bryony to help me with that!
High summer: the time of year when so many of New Zealand's indigenous plants are flowering. The showy pohutukawa makes its way around the world on Christmas cards at this time of the year, but as a South Islander I have always felt a bit distant from this symbol, touted as the New Zealand Christmas Tree. The pohutukawa can be found in street plantings in some coastal towns of the upper South Island, but the southern rata is more truly this Island's Christmas flower. More subtle, but no less beautiful than the pohutukawa, it is harder to find in garden settings. But also flowering in time for Christmas are many beautiful shrubs and trees, and if their blossom needs close scrutiny to see their beauty, the reward is surely well earned. Above is a native broom growing in the churchyard here in Ashley. It's been hard finding a definitive name for this shy beauty. It comes from Marlborough and inland North Canterbury, where it grows along shady stream banks. In the grounds of St Simon and St Jude it grows lushly in the dry shade under the English oaks, and the dense racemes of purple and white flowers, find their way into the Christmas service posies.
Ake ake is flowering now; both the green and the purple. The flower is easy to pass by, but once noticed it is almost voluptuous in its display. The green form can have creamy white blossom or pink as this one does. I wonder if this is a selected form. Many of the gardens in Ashley were planted during a suburban surge in the 70s and early 80s and the fashionable plantings of Australian and New Zealand plants have matured now.
Lophomyrtus varieties planted then are now healthy shrubbery specimens, providing more myrtle-stamened blossom for those Christmas posies. The variety 'Kathryn' has rich dark bubbly leaves which set the masses of white flowers off to stunning effect.
Two other Christmas stars worthy of mention are the marbleleaf with its mottled, holly-shaped leaves, and the narrow-leaved lacebark. Both of these small forest trees are smothered in tiny white flowers at this time of year.
New Zealand broom (one of many species), Maukoro Carmichaelia odorata Ake ake, Hop bush Dodonea viscosa Ramarama Lophomyrtus x ralphii 'Kathryn" Putaputaweta, Marbleleaf Carpodetus serratus Narrow-leaved lacebark, Houhi puruhi Hoheria angustifolia