Wellington NZ. SoS December 14, 2019

‘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.

43 Comments Add yours

  1. Lovely selection of roses there. Looks like you had a good time.

    1. Jane says:

      We did, thanks. The roses were well, floriferous, and this is a very small selection.

  2. Liz from NZ says:

    I’d be surprised if you can’t grow Marlborough Rock Daisy. The main problem with them is getting wet, that knocks them. In a sunny, well-drained position I would’ve thought they’d do fine. (I mean Marlborough’s hot and dry, and they’re a rock daisy). Glad the weather came right for you!

    1. Jane says:

      You’ve encouraged me to try to grow one. Thanks for that information, Liz. Now to try and find one here…..

  3. A splendidly nostalgia trip

    1. Jane says:

      It certainly was, Derrick, thank you.

  4. Fred says:

    You seem to have had a good time and the photos are beautiful…
    My favorite is the Metrosideros excelsa highlighted! Amazing tree !.

    1. Jane says:

      We did have a good time thanks Fred. The pohutukawas are wonderful iconic trees.

  5. Great photos and just what’s needed on a miserable grey day here!

    1. Jane says:

      Glad to be cheering you up. Not long to wait now for those green shoots to start appearing.

  6. Pauline says:

    I agree pohutukawa trees in full bloom, Christmas and New Zealand go together. A magnificent sight.

    1. Jane says:

      Just wonderful Pauline. You’d remember it well.

  7. Jim Stephens says:

    New Zealand seems to have such a perfect gardening climate, just a little less cold than here so everything we grow, they grow just a little better. I know it’s an illusion, but just look at those roses! The glasshouse picture reminds me of the one in Hamilton Gardens, NZ; mostly in pots where here they’re mostly landscaped with the plants in the ground.

    1. Jane says:

      Yes, it’s pretty much push a stick into the ground and it will grow! A lovely climate for gardeners. Last time we visited it was to the South Island and the peony flowers were almost as big as cabbages. I haven’t been able to get one to flower at all here.

  8. Lora Hughes says:

    Wow, those roses! And the Christmas tree is stunning! Love the little lizard. Wonder what makes him special – why didn’t others in that order survive, too – as he looks like a lizard to me. His family must have some sort of special power to still be chugging along. Everything looks great, Jane. Hope your visit was everything you wanted it to be.

    1. Jane says:

      I wasn’t entirely sure about the survival of the Tuatara, Lora, but I found this page which has some more information, if you’re interested. I learnt something too.
      Thanks for your comments. We enjoyed our visit very much.

      1. Lora Hughes says:

        Wow . . . that was really a fascinating article followed by the video. Thank you so much for taking the time to find it. The long gestation period followed by 35 yrs to grow up, certainly puts them at risk. I image search the 3rd eye & it’s really small. I’m now off to see if there are videos showing what situations they would use the eye in. Thanks again, Jane.

      2. Hi Jane … we have just arrived home today from a lovely 2 weeks in NZ. We were almost blinded by the wonderful shades of green everywhere! In Auckland we took the ferry to Devonport village and saw those pretty Pohutukawa trees lining the roads.. very Christmassy. We also enjoyed the Botanic gardens at Wellington and Katherine Mansfield’s house and houses and gardens around there. It must have been a lovely trip down memory lane for you.

        1. Jane says:

          Goodness, what a coincidence! Our trip exceeded our expectations. I’m glad you enjoyed yours too, Gerrie.

  9. So glad you had a good time over here! I have to say that the Lady Norwood Rose Garden is such a distraction, that when I want to get home from quickly I have to bypass it! I’m hoping for some good puhutakawa pics in the coming weeks. You just know it is summer and Christmas when you see them!

    1. Jane says:

      The trip exceeded our expectations completely, Barbara. Wellington at her best and I felt like selling up here and moving back!
      I think the Pohutukawas would be more advanced further north, but we were happy to see them beginning to flower. We went to the gardens twice btw, but made sure we walked *down* from the top!
      Zealandia was also a wonderful visit and far better than we thought it would be. We loved walking through the bush along those soft leafy paths. Just splendid.

  10. Pauline says:

    The beautiful pohutakawa is the spirit of NZ Christmas for me

  11. Jude says:

    Ah, I’d love to visit Wellington. And I fell in love with your Pohutukawa trees on my one and only visit to NZ 5 years ago. I hope I can return. As for the smokey conditions back in Australia I really feel for you folks, such a dreadful situation.

    1. Jane says:

      I hope you do manage to visit, Jude, there’s plenty to see, as you no doubt know. The conditions here in Australia are dire and becoming more so as the fires grow. Only a large amount of rain will extinguish them. Thanks for your concern.

  12. Kris P says:

    What a wonderful trip you had! The roses are absolutely splendid. I love the Metrosideros too. I have Metrosideros collinia ‘Springfire’ growing in my garden – I almost lost it to a horrific heatwave last year while we were still in a severe drought. It survived and is currently flowering (well outside its usual schedule).

    1. Jane says:

      Wonderful to have a Metrosideros blooming in your garden, and I’m so glad it didn’t succumb to the heat. They are coastal plants, so we wouldn’t be able to grow them here, but I really enjoyed seeing them in NZ.
      The roses are only a very small sample of the collection in the rose garden in Wellington.

  13. Tracy says:

    It must have been a lovely break from the oppressive smoke, Jane.

    1. Jane says:

      It certainly was, Tracy. The air was fresh and clear.

  14. Jane says:

    It certainly was Tracy. The air was fresh and clean. Just beautiful.

  15. Gill Heavens says:

    What a fabulous Six! Really raised my spirits this gloomy morning. Love each and every one.

    1. Jane says:

      Thank you Gill. There’s gloom here too, of a different sort, so it was good to get away and have our spirits lifted too.

  16. Granny says:

    What a lovely, bright Six! It seems ages (5 days, actually) since we were in the sunshine in Dubai, we are rather cold here and much of the garden is waterlogged. Never mind, the Christmas tree is up and I am looking forward to seeing the family soon. That red tree in No. 6 is stunning.

    1. Jane says:

      Thank you Granny. ‘ Waterlogged’ is a novel thought. I think we had that once!

  17. Oh, wow! Fantastic that you got to see a tuatara in more-or-less its native habitat.

    1. Jane says:

      It certainly was a thrill to see it. I had never seen one before.

  18. @cavershamjj says:

    Wow lovely to see those roses. Very colourful, lacking up here on the top of the world.

    1. Jane says:

      Topsy turvey seasons mean we Sixers can enjoy colour all year round.

  19. rusty duck says:

    It’s really cold here today, your post is a proper sight for sore eyes! Glad you had a lovely trip.

  20. Makiko 'Macquie' YANO says:

    Beautiful line ups of the roses and others! How is your garden, I hope it survives from the smokes and drought.
    I wish you have blessing Christmas and new year.

    1. Jane says:

      Hi Makiko, thanks for your good wishes. I wish you a wonderful 2020 as well. My garden isn’t doing so well. The weather is too hot and dry and the garden is too big for me to be able to look after it all. Soon we will go on to level three water restrictions and things will become even more difficult. I will just have to wait until it rains.

  21. These were six delightful images, and fine words to go with them, Jane! I think many if not all Australians are hoping for some healing rain, in these terribly hot and dangerous times. I hope the fires all around Australia will all be out sometime, but with the ongoing hot days, who knows when it might happen.

  22. Anna K says:

    Oh, how wonderful that you got to visit your childhood homeland! NZ has been on my bucket list for a while but sadly, no visits are in my near future. Maybe one day…. Anyway, I love those crimson brushes – they are right up my alley. And, seeing that Tuatara must have been exhilarating!

    1. Jane says:

      It was all pretty special, Anna and I’m wistfully remembering it while our skies here are full of smoke. A long way for you to go, however….that plane trip is tedious.

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