A coastal rock garden

On Wellington's south coast there are some sandy beaches, but otherwise it is a quite dramatic and really rocky shore.  Despite the harshness of the environment some very determined plants make these rocks home, surviving the lack of soil and exposure to drying salty winds and fierce gales.

A tiny tree - karo, or Pittosporum crassifolium, growing from a split in a rocky outcrop at one end of Houghton Bay, looking towards the rock formations by Princess Bay. 

Even smaller...

A tiny shrublet of taupata, Coprosma repens.  This is a plant which can happily grow into a tall shrub or small tree if conditions are better (see earlier posts). 

In both cases, a seed dropped by a bird has somehow germinated and thrived in a small fault in the rock which is able to collect water and accumulate some organic matter, in effect creating a tiny flower pot.  Of course, the very qualities which mean that a plant can actually develop and thrive in such conditions suggest that it could be overly successful, and that is the case for karo which is seen as a potentially invasive weed in some situations.  And speaking of weeds, there are other plants that grow and flourish on the rocky shore, but these ones are not a problem...

Seaweeds exposed at low tide, growing on the rocks and in the water at the end of Houghton Bay leading to Princess Bay.  At a distance, the plants seem muted, overwhelmed by the overall rather austere appearance of the rocks - the green of little coprosmas on the formations in the distance is barely visible, and the seaweeds seem to be a rather dark and dull presence.  But closer up, they are more vibrant and colourful...

Brown, green and red (I think) algae - the different colours and forms of the seaweeds, including the long sculptural blades of kelp and the bright green of sea lettuce.

Even brighter!  Contrasting colours and forms. 

Time for me to learn to identify the wonderful range of seaweeds here.  And yes, there are seaweed weeds too - invasive aliens coming from ballast water and similar sources, behaving like thugs, elbowing out the locals - its just like the problems that can arise with introduced terrestrial plants, and even some native ones like karo.