Some years ago now a wonderful decision was made by our local city council. In recognition of Porirua’s Sister City relationship with Nishio City in Japan, a grove of flowering cherry trees was planted on grassy reserve land near our local school and kindergarten.
This grove of trees brings such simple but profound pleasure to so many residents and visitors as the trees cycle through the seasons. Last spring the flowering was prolific and the lack of wind meant the blossoms were not ruined. In summer it is a shady, leafy spot for children to play or picnic under and for dogs to enjoy sniffing about on their daily walk.
Autumn brings a dramatic colour show with the trees now large and spreading. We have been enjoying, actually reveling in an Indian summer since Easter and the nights have not been crisp and cold in the main. This has meant the leaves on these trees have not had the stimulation that causes strong colour changes. However nature is at work right now despite our “false” summer and the trees are well worth visiting to enjoy their autumn splendour.
With storm force winds predicted for yesterday and through the night we decided to head down to the grove to capture some photos before the leaves were stripped off by the gales.
The wind proved to be very “Wellington”. So strong I had trouble opening my car door against it and to walk into the wind required a certain lean that all Wellingtonians get teased about. It was nevertheless invigorating as swirls of fallen leaves from the many deciduous trees in that spot flew up and around us.
Such a large expanse of varied colour was a challenge to capture on humble digital cameras from ground level but we did our best.
After being buffeted and blown about we returned home feeling utterly refreshed and “our cobwebs” blown away.
Near the school car park are three large Oak trees. My children all attended this school and at this time of the year they would bring home piles of acorns, collected in sweatshirt pockets, empty lunch boxes or in their school packs.
Today the ground was littered with acorns and the little cups that drop off the acorn. The little cups are the fascinating means that allow the acorn to form and hold it on the tree until the seed is ripe enough to tumble to the ground.
Did you play with acorns and the little cups when you were a child? I did, pretending the little cups could be drink containers for fairies or tiny hats for tiny heads?
And do you remember this rhyme about Oak trees and acorns? We used to chant this at each other during acorn seasons long ago.
“Don’t worry if your job is small and your rewards are few,
Remember that the mighty oak was once a nut like you”….
I’ll post some photos of the flowering cherry trees in their autumn colours in my next post…..:-)
Earlier in the week I visited the nearby wetlands, wildlife area in Pauatahanui. I took my trusty “point and shoot” camera with the intention of taking some photos for possible entries in next year’s Guardians of Pauatahanui Inlet photo competition. (Do have a look at the winning photos in this year’s competition, there are some utterly stunning shots. I particularly love the ones of the herons)
As we ambled along a track I spied a native Poroporo bush (Solanum laciniatum) and on it a single orange berry set amongst the deep green foliage.
I know this plant and its gorgeous deep purple flowers and the fact that Maori used it traditionally as a contraceptive. I also know that the berries when green are poisonous and that the leaves are to be treated with caution too.
A little bit of searching around on the internet gave me further information. A member of the tomato family (Solanaceae) it is toxic to sheep and cattle so is no friend to farmers and their stock. It prefers to grow in the native bush or in rough, disturbed land.
I also learnt that the early European settlers made jam from the ripe berries.
This website provided further interesting information about the plant being studied to see whether it has medicinal properties which could be used in the treatment of arthritis and skin diseases.
The ordinary things in our environment can so often be valuable to us when we take the time to learn about them.
It is ANZAC day here in New Zealand. A day when we remember the Australian and New Zealand troops who fought so heroically at Gallipoli. The day has been extended to remember all who have served in wars as Defence force members.
I know of 7 men in my family who served in WW1 and WW11. Fortunately all returned home but the cost was very high for some and the experience profound on them all.
I have spent some quiet time today reflecting on them and their bravery and courage.
My daughter and I spent some time this afternoon in our local wetlands, wildlife area at the head of the Pauatahanui Inlet. It was a peaceful place to reflect and remember all who served.
I went about my garden yesterday and took some photos. What became obvious to me was that some plants were not yet going into late autumn mode thanks to the warm, dry weather we have been experiencing for a few weeks now.
I could only find one rose-hip where normally there are many by now and a small patio rose has put on new leaf and lo and behold has new flower buds.
But the Smoke bush is in full autumn colour from yellow, to orange, to red, to deep crimson and its leaves are falling in the breezy conditions this week.
And the Cotoneaster has its berries swelling and deepening into bright red. They are not ripe enough yet for the birds but I am watching for the feast to begin.
Many of the deciduous trees look dry-leaved but are not turning their vibrant colours because our nights have not been cold and crisp yet.
And just to confuse things a little further the small kowhai bushes are busy flowering.
Earlier in the year I blogged about a local man, Russell Plume who had used old pieces of brick that he had found on Plimmerton beach and in the local stream to form quotations from Shakespeare. He has made settings of these quotes and several are mounted on sea walls at Plimmerton Beach.
Russell stumbled upon my blog during the week and left a welcome comment here.He has also set up a Facebook page called Shakespeare by the Sea, Plimmerton which includes photographic detail of how he constructed the pieces. He would welcome your interest.
Each day is different and has a surprise in it, like a Cracker Jack box.
This quote came in on a daily email I subscribe to and it made me think about some of the surprises I experienced on Friday.
As I drove down to our village there was the finest of mists across the sunlit hills on a still, sunny, autumn morning.
As I parked the car at our village shops I saw a white horse with its owner waiting to see the local vet.
Overhead a top-dressing plane was swooping and diving as it spread fertilizer on the nearby farm hills.
In the chemist’s shop I spotted a pair of “rock star” socks, complete with a red electric guitar on them for my three year old grandson who loves drumming and music.
Back at home I spotted a finch in the garden. The finches seem to have left our garden for the summer so perhaps like “our” Tui they are back.
And when I rang our local city council to request that they trim around the base of a Pohutukawa to increase visibility on the street corner the woman on the end of the phone told me she could see that tree, in real time, on her computer screen.
So I had my share of pleasant surprises on Friday.
This stunning pyracantha “turned my head” as I drove past it on my way home yesterday. Today in duller overhead conditions I went back to take some photos to share.
Pyracanthas are renowned for their brilliant berry displays in autumn. It is surprising to see such a brilliant show because we have not had many crisp autumn nights so far but whatever the reason, this specimen has burst forth into golden glory. It positively glows sitting alone with a dark fence behind it.
I really like the cartoons drawn by Michael Leunig. Here is an offering that is so relevant to life these days. The weather here was not that good for lying on the grass and gazing at the sky but I did watch the incoming cold front at lunch time and the variegated coloured clouds at dusk tonight. Charge up those batteries out in nature.