Smile

new gate (09 May 2015)

new gate (09 May 2015)

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The tradesman building
my gate has a magic smile:
I’m still drunk on it.

(08 May 2015)

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There’s scaffolding all around where I live, the painters have sprayed the windows with grease, and the gardens are a wreck. But I have a new gate …

 

Wellington Spring

kōwhai flowers (31 August 2013)

kōwhai flowers (31 August 2013)

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Nothing is so beautiful as spring—
When weeds, in wheels, shoot long and lovely and lush;

Gerard Manley Hopkins, in Spring (Poems 1918)

At the end of our warmest winter on record, New Zealanders have been treated to an early spring.

The leaf-buds on roses pruned only a week ago are already bursting with new life, and the magnolias in local gardens are quite spectacular.

Spring is seen as a time of growth, renewal, of new life (both plant and animal) being born. The term is also used more generally as a metaphor for the start of better times, as in the Prague Spring. … In South Africa, Australia, and New Zealand, spring begins on 1 September, and has no relation to the vernal equinox. (Wikipedia)

Throughout the region, the golden flowers of kōwhai are in evidence – although not all of the eight species bloom at the same time. A grand old tree in a friend’s garden is showing its first flowers for the season (see image).  Before long, though, it will be a glowing mass of colour, and a magnet for tui (more correctly, tūī), which like kōwhai nectar in spring as much as they do flax flowers in summer.

Despite having no official status as such, the blooms of the kōwhai are widely regarded as being New Zealand’s national flower. (Wikipedia)

Somewhere in the back of my mind is the idea that the kōwhai flower has been utilised as an emblem of reconciliation, but I can find no relevant inter-web reference.

Perhaps it connects with Māori medicinal practice (rongoā). In traditional Māori healing, diagnosis involved a holistic approach that included mind, body and spirit – mauri (spark or life force), wairua (spirit), and tapu (natural law). Whakapapa or genealogy was also considered. (from www.newzealand.com) All parts of the tree contain toxic alkaloids, so careful preparation of kōwhai rongoā is crucial.

Winter in my little pansy- and violet-sprinkled courtyard hasn’t required much of me, but the surge in spring growth has the weeds flourishing and the fragrant mint spreading.

I’m busy tomorrow. Maybe Tuesday …

Companion planting

zygocactus and basil (23 May 2013)

zygocactus and basil (23 May 2013)

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Autumn moves rapidly toward winter and sunshine becomes increasingly scarce. I have moved my trusty zygocactus and a pot of fragrant basil together onto the dining table, which looks out onto my sunny courtyard.

Visually, the pinks and greens work really well together.

An experiment in companion planting, one might say.

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zygocactus flowers (23 May 2013)

zygocactus flowers (23 May 2013)

On a summer morning

blackbird (female)

blackbird (female)

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Curious blackbird
trapped behind glass, screams, struggles
against gentle hands.

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The courtyard door is often open on fine summer mornings, and the birds I feed are sometimes tempted to hop up onto the doorstep and peer inside. Today, whilst making my bed, I heard unusual noises. In the dining-room, a female blackbird was hurling herself at the window.

(04 January 2013)

Blue lobelia

lobelia erinus (09 Nov 2012)

lobelia erinus (09 Nov 2012)

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Since moving into my Mt Victoria apartment in March of this year, I’ve removed unwanted items from the gravel courtyard – including a hedge of woody old fuchsias and two pot-bound flowering trees – and have planted lavenders and low-growing white roses.

Among the self-seeded items I am happy  to see in flower are forget-me-nots, pansies, granny bonnets, snapdragons, and the pretty lobelia erinus pictured here.