Happy Valley Road travels inland from Owhiro Bay along a valley, as the name suggests. Beside the road there are quite steep hillsides covered by shrubs and a few trees - a fresh green now, although at times of low light quite sombre.
This spring I have been delighted and surprised by a NZ native shrub, one of the tree daisies, Rangiora (Brachyglottis rependa). In flower it is revealing itself to be much more widespread than I had realised.. there seems to be a froth of the creamy white flowers everywhere I look. The individual flowers are actually tiny - about 5mm across, and the opposite of the image of large daises that is conjured up by the description "tree daisy".
It is the plant that can get big, not the flowers. Rangiora can grow to be small trees, although they are generally more shrubby and spreading.
The leaves are large and leathery with soft felted white hairs on their undersides, and they have had rather different uses. Their antiseptic properties and strength meant they were were used as bandages by Maori, and they have also been called "bushmen's toilet paper"! There is a purple leafed form, and the contrast of the pale stems and the dark leaves is very attractive - this form is the one most often seen in gardens. But it is one of those plants that seems to be taken for granted, and not deliberately planted very often.
Well, it might be something to do with the milder wetter winter, but the Rangiora seem to be making more of a statement than usual. And what a lovely one!
The profusion of tiny flowers, quite fragrant, contrasting with the large leathery leaves.