The end of the year is nigh. Christmas has been celebrated and the pohutukawa - Metrosideros excelsa, the "New Zealand Christmas tree" - have been blessing us with their beautiful rich reds, ranging from crimson to scarlet. This one is at Greta Point, but it seems that everywhere you look here in Wellington they are adding their vibrance to the bright summery weather.
Although they did not naturally grow in Wellington they have been used a great deal in amenity plantings in the city and in the suburbs. They thrive almost too well here (as they do to the point of being weeds in places like Spain and California) and there is a cooling down on their use. Instead we are encouraged to plant a relative that grew here naturally - northern rātā, Metrosideros robusta.
But when the pohutukawa are in full flower the rich redness is appreciated and welcomed, not least because it is associated with a festive time. Judging by the number of cameras and smartphones that I see being used, I am not alone in my delight. And although picturing the pohutukawa flowers is a seasonal cliche, I am happy to celebrate them and with them the pleasures that summer and the end of year can bring.