The equinox. People are celebrating spring in the Northern Hemisphere while suddenly here it is very clear that the days are shorter and, just in case we hadn't noticed, a very cold southerly has blasted through along with the turbulence caused by Cyclone Pam. Autumn is here.
At this time of year WOMAD is held in New Plymouth, and going to it means I also get to see Pukekura Park again. This park is a real treasure of a place, underappreciated I think, with a rich collection of plants.
A reliable sight is the brilliant red of scarlet rata (Metrosideros fulgens), a New Zealand native vine which flowers in autumn and winter. It contrasts wonderfully with the rather greyish green of a lot of our shrubs and trees, and makes a wonderful display, climbing up to 10 metres.
This one is growing up the long trunk of a tree fern - probably a mamaku - after first clambering up some shorter tree ferns at its base, in a quiet corner by the Fountain Lake.
Closer up you can see that the clusters of flowers are like a forest of red stamens.Bottoms up! Heads down and busily feeding, two honey bees enjoy the flowers too.