Winter colours - paperwhite and soft bud green

In several days it will be the shortest day of the year - although it takes a while for this to be noticeable, I am encouraged and look forward to longer days and more light.  Late this afternoon I enjoyed a quiet wander in the Bolton Street Memorial Park, which is the site of Wellington's first colonial cemetery.  It is a quiet wooded space sitting between the motorway and the city centre below, and the Botanic Garden above.  People in their office clothes walk up the steep hill on their way home from work, joggers trot past, dogs are walked, and amidst the old graves and memorials are heritage roses and other cottage style plants, many dating from the colonial era.  It is definitely winter now, but autumn lingered - gold and amber foliage on the rose Tuscany, bright red viburnum berries shining in the fading light.  But the chilly looking silvery bare branches and white bark of a silver birch were in keeping with the wintery cold.  And then - signs of life, reminders of spring...

In the increasing gloom the luminous white flowers of paperwhite narcissus - Narcissus papyraceus, growing by a path.  Originating in the Mediterranean, they are relatives of the daffodil but flower here in winter and early spring.  Their strong fragrance is not appreciated by all - but I love it!

They do tend to nod anyway, but heavy rain has added to their rather subdued pose.  I had to kneel down to see their faces.

And the soft green of these rhododendron buds, unbowed by the rain, a refreshing reminder of the new growth to come. 

But before spring, more winter.  A polar blast with wild winds and snow is forecast for the end of the week.  Snow might even fall in Wellington.  Brrr.