SEARCH (there is a lot more) - plants, beasties, atmospherics, and Wellington's south coast
Keep in touch with the good earth

Gorgeous greens at the beginning of the Routeburn 

The Routeburn track is one of New Zealand's so-called Great Walks (actually tramping routes), but you don't have to go in far at all to enjoy the wonderful greens of the beech forest - there is an easy nature walk at the beginning of the track.Crossing the first swingbridge over the Route Burn, itself a lovely aqua colour, you see the banks covered with ferns, grasses, mosses, tree seedlings, some lichens.Soft mosses covering almost everything and the fine green foliage of the beech trees create a very dreamy peaceful atmosphere. A profusion of mosses, filmy ferns, and the dangling little white flowers of Luzuriaga parviflora - a native plant new to me but found throughout the country, alongside mosses and lichens, in cool wet mountain forests.Lots of trickling water and little rivulets.Ferns were the predominant ground cover in somewhat drier areas.But mostly it was moist and mossy, a perfect environment for filmy ferns - I was delighted to see such extensive groups of these tiny delicate treasures.Mosses were covering one half of this large rock, filmy ferns were most prominent on the other half.  Unfortunately I didn't have a suitable lens to take close-ups of the filmy ferns, mosses etc.  Next time!Closer to the river the forest was more open.Looking back at the terrain that the Routeburn track enters you can see that there was no shortage of moisture - mist, rain and a recent summer snowfall in the mountains.And as we left, the weather was closing in - a reminder of why you have to be well prepared whenever you head into the mountains - even if you are just doing a short easy walk.


New Year - crimson pohutukawa, golden pingao, capricious weather

It's a New Year but here in Wellington we continue to enjoy the same old weather patterns - southerly then northerly winds and gales, dull then sunny days, flat grey then vibrant blue skies, calm seas then large swells and crashing waves.  Never boring, but often frustrating. 

The crimson flowers of pohutukawa (Metrosideros excelsa, New Zealand Christmas tree) seem to light up on sunny days - seen here at Island Bay, the view across to Baring Head.And golden pingao (Ficinia spiralis, pīkao, or golden sand sedge) seems to light up a leaden grey day - here on the rocky shore at Te Raekaihau Point on Wellington's south coast.With our weather being so reliably changeable and capricious, the beauty of plants is reliable in a rather more welcome way.


Sparkling raindrops 

We have had a lot of rain.  A lot.  Most plants are thriving, drinking it up.  But this weather can get tedious - grey and heavy.

However, there has been a "silver lining" - sparking silver raindrops on the feathery foliage of fennel...and on the rich reds of the smoke bush (Cotinus) And today we enjoyed bright blue skies and warm sunshine.  Hopefully there is more to come!


Christmas-y colours of spring - Kaka beak, Clematis Sweet Hart

Well, it must still be spring - the weather here in Wellington remains capricious and, frankly, not all that pleasant.  Gales have been blasting tender new growth and the southerlies keep bringing the temperature down - to cold. 

But summer and Christmas are coming.  Here's to the bright colours of early spring - seen in the Christchurch Botanic Gardens - and the coming festivities: The red and green of Kaka beak (Ngutu kaka) And the brilliant white of Clematis Sweet Hart, a hybrid native clematis. 

These were in flower a month or so ago, but I remember them fondly amidst the red, green and white Christmas decorations that have been proliferating for weeks.


A winter treat - sunshine and Monarch butterflies at the Wellington Botanic Garden

Wellington on a good day - no wind, sunshine, and signs that spring is getting closer - what could be better!   Well, a walk in the Botanic Garden and a visit to the scented garden made it better still. 

On the grassy hill by the Treehouse visitor centre, early Narcissus - white and yellow (probably N. tazetta) - are already blooming brightly.  But what were the flashes of orange that I saw? Monarch butterflies were feeding and flittering and chasing each other and resting in the sunshine.  Evidently they have been overwintering here.  After the cold, rain and gales of the previous week, they appeared to be making up for lost time.  Alas, I was not equipped to photograph the ones on the wing, but I happily photographed some of the butterflies more intent on feeding.  These ones on a camellia bush were so settled they looked more like colourful flowers.
There was quite a choice of flowers for a hungry butterfly - yellow wallflowers,pale purple wallflowers,or "yellow daphne" - Edgeworthia chrysantha also known as oriental paperbark, not to mention heliotrope, daphne and other scented lovelies in the garden.  The butterflies' wings looked a bit weatherbeaten, but they were still a magnificent sight.  And the scented flowers were a treat for me too.