‘A ruffian wind is bliss, a blind man’s comfort station. When I get tired of walking around it, I can always lean against it.’ James McNeish, 1931 – 2016.
These lines of poetry are part of the Wellington Writers’ Walk and amongst others, can be found displayed around the pedestrianised wharf area that skirts Wellington Harbour. ‘Ruffian winds’ were what we experienced for our first couple of days in the city of my birth as we tacked along the wharves with the wind in our hair and the rain on our faces. Our umbrella soon blew inside out, but no matter: parapluies are of little use in this windy city.
Then, as if by magic, the weather cleared to glorious sunny wind-free days and we were able to enjoy what this little city has to offer: a trip by bus to Miramar, and then walking down the hill to Scorching Bay, as I used to do with my grandmother; a visit to Katherine Mansfield’s house, a tour of Parliament Buildings (didn’t see Jacinda Ardern, unfortunately), a ride on the cable car, a couple of visits to the Botanical Gardens, walks around Thorndon and the beautiful houses and gardens there and many walks along the quays.
My six this week comes from Wellington because we’ve only just returned from what was a delightful break.
One: Marlborough Rock daisy, Pachystegia insignis is showing its best form around city gardens just now. With its smart leathery white-margined leaves and pretty flowers it’s such a healthy looking plant that I’d love to have in my garden, but although it’s described as drought-hardy, I fear it would find our conditions too extreme.
Two: Although buffeted by the ruffian wind, the roses in the Lady Norwood Rose Garden at the Botanical Gardens were putting on quite a show.
Three: The Begonia House at the Botanical Gardens contained much more than begonias!
Four: A view of Oriental Bay from Queen’s Wharf. Idyllic.
Five: Basking amongst the Erigeron is a Tuatara. Tuatara are rare, medium-sized reptiles found only in New Zealand. They are the last survivors of an order of reptiles that thrived in the age of the dinosaurs. They are endangered, and you would be very lucky to see one in the wild. We saw this one at ‘Zealandia‘ a fully fenced ecosanctuary within Wellington city where native creatures can survive unmolested by predators.
Six: We were a little bit early to see the Pohutukawa (Metrosideros excelsa) trees in all their glory. Known also as the NZ Christmas tree these beauties are found all over Wellington, in gardens, parks and lining the streets. Some of them have grown to a venerable age as their twisting trunks and magnificent canopies attest. Almost nothing evokes NZ to me as much as these trees, which when in full flower are a mass of brilliant crimson. Beloved by the Tui, or Parson bird, they are to me, some of what NZ is all about.
As ever, more peeks into gardens can be seen over at the Propagator’s blog. Do drop in.
Weather today (in Mudgee): 12-32 degrees C. Dry and smoky.