Monthly Archives: September 2013

Of Cabbages……?

No, not a post about Cabbages, nor a post about what the Walrus said “of cabbages and kings”, but a post about our Cabbage Trees. Ti Kouka in Maori, Cordyline Australis in Latin, a tree so common in New Zealand that it is easily taken for granted and overlooked.

We have at least two of these trees in our garden now and as I have sat sniffling and snuffling over the past four days I have noticed flower heads emerging from our trees.

I learnt from Ruth here that Cabbage Tree flowers have a beautiful scent and on that calm afternoon on Thursday I could just smell a delicate perfume when I was out near the larger of the two trees.
Keruru, New Zealand’s native wood pigeon love the flowers and seeds of these trees so I am pleased to extend our bird resort facilities further with the sight of an abundant flowering about to happen.

I was further surprised to peer over the supermarket car park wall and spot this stunning sight. It is rare to look down into the head of a cabbage tree as they stand very tall, very quickly but here was a gem to cheer me on.
There is quite a line-up of cabbage trees below this wall and they offered me various photos of flower heads emerging and flowers blooming.

Unfortunately any scent was being blown away in the spring winds. Like many of our native trees this flowering season is looking to be a boomer.


Green for healing

The Man of the House and I have fallen prey to a miserable virus. There is a line-up of immune boosting supplements, cold and flu relief products, boxes of tissues, cough lozenges and extra fluid options in evidence at the moment.
We have needed an abundance of healing vibes and green is a colour for that. The beautiful light and my need for some fresh air drew me out into the garden on Thursday as the sun was lowering in the sky. Greens everywhere took my eye and offered freshness and something of a mirror to our current vulnerability.


Fresh and new growth does not always survive an onslaught.
But in a turn for the better, as the dreary symptoms begin to abate, I spotted this beauty as I ventured down to the shop for some more cough lozenges for the MoH. It heralds a return to being “in the pink” once again and we are really looking forward to that!
By the way…..this is a Chinese Toon tree and it always reminds me of Dr Seuss and his wonderful stories and rhymes which hold so much wisdom and offer so much fun and laughter (which is the best medicine!!)
You can go here to find out more about this amazing tree and how it has even more medicinal uses.


Do you use Twitter, that short, succinct message system? I don’t but as of last weekend the Tuis have definitely been in touch with each other in their own twittering way.

You may remember my post at the beginning of the month detailing the facilities we offer to Tui. At that point I was still waiting for a Tui to find and drink from the nectar feeder we have put up in the garden to supplement their food supply. Well someone has sent out a “tweet” in the Tui world…..
My patience has been rewarded with Tui now calling regularly to the feeder and, along with the many wax-eyes who visit it, cause it to empty in around 48 hours.
We have all enjoyed watching the Tuis arrive and drink their fill of the sugar/water combination. While taking sharp, close-up photos has been a challenge, we have been able to spy their long, narrow yellow tongue which they use to brush nectar from flowers and which plays some role in their ability to drink.
The proximity of large trees near to the feeder seems to be helpful. Tui, from my observations, prefer to be in taller trees and thrive on bouncing from limb to limb to eat. There are times when they bounce on to the fence,
along the fence
and then on to the feeder.
They are nervous and watchful and generally do not loiter, although on rare occasions one might perch on the fence and sing for us briefly. Generally they prefer to sing from this tall Magnolia.
I hope you can see something of their gorgeous plumage. On sunny days this is particularly striking with its turquoise iridescence set against strong black and white feather patterning.
What a delight to have Tui call in the garden in such a clear vantage spot.

Tui Tucker

Some of our learned scientists are wondering if New Zealand is experiencing a “masting” season after a warm winter which has seen plenty of rain fall.
A “masting” season is when the native trees produce an exceptionally heavy crop of seeds thus providing abundant food for many of our native birds and ensuring the regeneration of native trees once the birds have eaten the seeds.
There is a downside to a “masting” season as numbers of rodents and ground dwelling predators have an abundant food supply too which means young birds are at greater risk.
Before seeds come flowers and a “masting” season could account for the bounty of Griselinia flowers in my garden and the abundance of kowhai flowers on every Kowhai tree at the moment.

These flowers on a tree in the St Alban’s Church grounds at Pauatahanui were feeding two Tui while I visited yesterday.



Such intense gold and delicate beauty providing nectar to the birds.

Canary Bird

Today I returned to the Pauatahanui Burial Ground to see what was happening there in early spring.

Some very early roses were beginning to bloom with buds galore on all the roses.

This pretty yellow rose caught my eye.

Canary Bird (Pimpinellifoliae) is its name, dating back to 1908 but this bush was planted in 1996.

A good frisky spring breeze was ruffling things and making photo taking a little tricky.


I will be returning to the Ground in the next few weeks to record more of the first roses.

Tuesday Triumph

A good many years ago Cable Television infrastructure was installed underground in our suburb. It took a lot of digging and many disruptions to other underground services (water, gas and power) and we were left with ugly, little green boxes on the edges of our sections.

One neighbour had the misfortune to be at a junction point and so he received a more sizeable ugly, green box.
He is a passionate gardener and negotiated a deal with the contractors around the unsightly box. The result was the planting of a camellia bush and over the years it has grown just as he wanted it to and it now obscures the eyesore.

Cable television was a major flop and the green boxes remain but I think this Camellia is a real triumph of beauty over blight.