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Keep in touch with the good earth

To Japan - and glorious autumn colour (koyo) in Nikko

It is my very good fortune to be visiting a friend in Japan.  I have travelled from the relative cool of spring weather in Wellington to warm weather in Japan (although people here seem to think it is cool) - and some of the autumn colours are very warm too. 

A few days ago I visited Nikko, a small city in the mountains north of Tokyo, famous for World Heritage status shrines and temples in a site of great beauty.  But this time my priorities were elsewhere.  Heading to visit the Nikko Botanical Garden, I saw these Japanese maples in full glorious colour just near Shinyo, the sacred bridge.  (I failed to register the name of the statue-d person.)It was a gorgeous sunny morning.  The backlighting made the colours really vibrant - and these were not the most vivid that I saw. 

I was one of many many people visiting Nikko that day.  We all go for our own reasons, but I hope that we all came away not only arrested by the beauty of nature, but having some awareness of being part of it and having responsibility towards it - not just the World Heritage site, but our own backyards as well.  The upcoming Paris climate talks come to mind.  Imagine how powerful it would be if we all took action to protect our precious planet from further human-induced damage!


No better place to be - by the Cockayne lawn at Otari

At Otari native plant botanic garden, here in Wellington, there are memorial seats/benches in places of interest and beauty.  As I sit and enjoy them I often wonder about the people who are commemorated and their connection with the place, and I very much hope that they enjoyed the plants as I do. This seat commemorates Roa Isobel Irons with the words "No better place to be than here with family."  Here by the Cockayne Lawn the family of plants looks bright and inviting with spring colours - scarlet kaka beak and golden kowhai flowers.  And as the days lengthen and warm up, this is a place where families will happily play and picnic.  Indeed there is no better place to be than in the beauty of nature.


Kereru and kowhai at Otari - and it's almost time for the Great Kereru Count

I was fortunate to have a bit of time to get to Otari (native plant museum) yesterday.  The sun was out, some kowhai were in flower, and it was very peaceful apart from the whoosh whoosh whoosh of kereru flying from tree to tree.  They are such a wonderful sight - their beautiful feathers, and their rather ungainly but often gorgeously plump bodies - like bumble bees, they don't look completely air-worthy.



Two kereru were quite settled in a kowhai tree by the Canopy Walkway - so I got a good view.

(I had somehow messed up the settings on my camera, alas - so my picture taking was not of great quality, but this gives you an idea of the special sight.)







One assumed a classic portrait-of-kereru poseWhile the other was doing some gymnastics to reach and eat kowhai flowers.A happy spring sighting and a happy reminder  - it is just about time for the Great Kereru Count.


A pink hyacinth - welcoming spring and nurturing hope

It's the last day of August and the last day of winter (an arbitrary cut off, but there we are) - and it's a cold and grey day so a cheerful pink sweet-smelling hyacinth is very welcome.  Spring is a marvellous time of unfolding growth and regeneration - despite our cold winds.  And here we go again!

I am very grateful that the beauty of nature gives me such joy, and that it reminds me of the complexity and diversity of life, the power of the forces of growth and regeneration. I feel sad and sick with dread when I see how often we humans deny our interconnectedness - with other people and with all living things.  If we can't cooperate with nature and with each other I'm not hopeful about the kind of future we will have.  But spring is a great reminder - no matter how cold and bleak the winter has been, a small change in the temperature and day length brings a resurgence of life and colour. 

So the message I take from spring is - let's nurture the tender growth of human hope too!


Emerging from winter's gloom - gold lace polyanthus and spring bulbs

It has been cold, windy and wet, as winter should be - but we are beginning to emerge from winter's grip.  Gold lace polyanthus flowers, wet and somewhat bedraggled, light up a corner of the garden in Wellington's colours of gold and black. And in anticipation of spring, a rather unkempt group of potted bulbs has made a start:

the lemon trumpets of hoop petticoat daffodils - Narcissus Aygarth;  hyacinths - pink and pale yellow;  a warm pink lachenalia;  the pink and white flowers of Oxalis versicolor, resolutely furled up (they only open in decent sunshine) showing the reason they are called "candy cane" oxalis;  and some little blue grape hyacinths.  Behind the pot collection is a particularly lovely rosemary with rich blue flowers and amidst the pots you can see leaves of thyme, parsley, and nasturtium.

Neglected through winter, they are saying to me "get to work, tend us, spring is around the corner."

Guess its time to comply with their request - garden ho.

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