How lovely it can be when it is sunny after a period of greyness. Today there were just a few clouds - classic cotton wool-like cumulus all white and fluffy against the bright blue sky. Spring bulbs are in flower although strictly it is not yet spring. But Narcissus Spring Sunshine is in full golden splendour.The lemon yellow petals contrast with the orange cups. Three to five flowers bunch together on each stem, their petals overlapping. They give a sense of exuberance and abundance - spring is almost here!
Clouds and rain were coming and going, and the cloud-softened headland looked like a breaking wave, the actual water from Island Bay across to Baring Head was calm and subtly patterned by the currents.
Later the clouds over Baring Head and the Orongorongos were more defined, a misty shower evident.I find that even when weather is "bad" (meaning not as warm and sunny as we light-responsive humans would like it to be) it can also be beautiful. And it is life-enhancing, unlike a lot of human behaviour (especially current political behaviour.) To me this grey-blue atmosphere was soothing, not a cause to be down in the dumps.
Bold and stylish, their orange beaks and eye rings contrasting with glossy black feathers, and quietly determined in attitude, two variable oystercatchers (Haematopus unicolor) spied wading and foraging along the Island Bay shoreline in the late afternoon sun.These are impressive birds - they tend to couple for life and to stay in the same territory. And despite the human presence and disruption around them, they just seem to keep going about their lives - we are a bit of a nuisance, but they are undeterred.
Cyclamen persicum, the species from which the big and bright florist's cyclamen cultivars have been developed, has a subtle and delicate flower. Both the species and its cultivars are good house plants as long as you don't over-water them - Cyclamen persicum comes from places that tend to be hot and dry (Greece, Turkey, Syria, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Algeria, Tunisia) and it also doesn't like frost, athough The Cyclamen Society 1990 expedition to Israel found it growing in snow on the Golan Heights.
I got my first plant from the wonderful Joy Plants more than twenty years ago. The tuber is now the size of a bread and butter plate and has scores of flowers in late winter. I have also grown on some more plants from seeds that I have collected from the original. There is subtle genetic variation reflected in slight flower and leaf differences in my cluster of plants. In late winter they flower.The upswept petals are like little propellers, the flock of flowers hovering over the leaves, filling the room with sweet perfume.
It has been a most welcome clear sunny day. The lower angle of the bright still-winter light had the effect of emphasising the textures and shapes of a group of drought tolerant New Zealand native plants at Otari-Wilton's Bush.
As most of our plants are not deciduous there are leaves and colour (and not too limited a palette) throughout the year.
These mounding shrubs and tussock grasses are typical of those found in the "rain shadow" to the east of the Southern Alps in the South Island. The effect of the mountains is to increase precipitation of rain on the west side, so the east gets much less rain and is much drier. This means the plant landscapes on either side of the Alps are very different. The plants that thrive in the dry east tend to also do well here in Wellington with our drying winds.
I think they look great. And although it's still cold, hints of spring are beginning to appear.