The idea of flowers in spring tends to conjure up images of rather softly pretty and colourful displays. But there are other plants in bloom celebrating the arrival of more sunshine and warmth with drama and style...
In the foreground an Aciphylla, or speargrass, a New Zealand native plant whose name says it all - spiny leaves in a grass-like clump. It has golden flowers which make a colourful display as a group. In the background is a Xeronema callistemon, with its red brush-like flowers beginning to open. Around them are the golds, reds and greens of groundcovers including coprosmas and fluffy grasses. Seen here in a municipal planting in Wellington city - I find it a pleasing sight.
There is a curiously attractive don't-mess-with-me quality in the Aciphylla and I have even seen suggestions that they be planted strategically in the home garden to deter burglars!
The Aciphyllas are on the whole alpine plants, living in tough conditions. They vary in size and ferocity and some of them are very tall and very spiny and very intimidating. Fashions come and go even in plant choices for gardens. I have rarely seen them in garden settings, but Aciphyllas would fulfil the vogue for so-called architectural plants very well indeed.
This spring display certainly contrasts greatly with the rather soft and dewy new growth on non-native deciduous trees which have been in blossom and leaf recently. I enjoy them all!