Monthly Archives: January 2014

A garden in Hawkes Bay

We stayed with relatives in Hawkes Bay and in a welcome space of time away from the hospital I wandered about their lovely garden with the camera.

The climate in Hawkes Bay is so very different to our one here in Porirua and gardens grow luxuriantly there. Different plants thrive in the dry, scorching heat of summer and the frosty cold winters.

So here are some of the plants I photographed during my time out in nature. The intense heat and light of mid morning was not the best time for photography but I wanted to capture those extremes.

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Heart beats

On Sunday 29th December we got word that the elder of my extended family had been taken by ambulance to hospital with a very low heart rate. A healthy heart usually beats at least 60 beats per minute at rest.
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His had plummeted to below 30 and he was feeling most unwell.

We live 4 hours’ drive away from his home in Hawkes Bay so it was with great relief that we learnt that the medical folk had stabilised him and his heart beats were looking more normal again very quickly. He was discharged after further tests and monitoring had been done and his medication altered.

However a few days later a slow heart beat episode began again and this time, while he finally became more stable it was deemed necessary that he remain in hospital. It was time for us to pack our bags and head along a very familiar route to Hawkes Bay.

We found him in a reasonable condition, resting comfortably with a lot of monitoring machinery and nursing care surrounding him. The Cardiologist had decided, while we were on the road, that a pace-maker would be the best treatment but inserting a pace-maker is only done in tertiary level hospitals in New Zealand. Wellington is the closest one to Hawkes Bay.
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The application to Wellington was accepted but no date had been given with that news. Time and hearts ticked along until late on Monday afternoon when news arrived that he would travel by fixed wing air ambulance to Wellington the next morning. A cardiac nurse would travel with him.

Our return to Wellington on Tuesday tracked to the hospital which is reasonably familiar to us and into the Cardiac ward to find our elder looking far more like his old self. The procedure had not been straight forward and much lengthier than the norm so we had had some skipped heart beats as text messages kept us informed of his progress along our journey.

The skills and abilities of the pace maker team and the kind care and attention of his cardiac nurse we met on Tuesday night are gratefully acknowledged. He was transferred back to HB Hospital in the air ambulance on Wednesday morning feeling a lot more like his old self.

He is now back at home adjusting to the restrictions of one arm out of use for some weeks, no car driving at least in the short term and extra personal help but with digital technology now regulating his heart.

For now all our hearts are beating a little more calmly and we hope this will continue for a good long time to come.
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New Zealand Christmas candles…..or not?

This season has seen a profusion of flowering amongst our native trees and plants. The cabbage trees were luxuriant, the kowhais dripped their gold, the Pohutukawas are prolific and the various flaxes are producing bounteous nectar and pollen.

One variety of flax that is found in several gardens near my home has glowed with “ Christmassy” reds and oranges. The flowers remind me of traditional Christmas candles that appeared on Christmas cards when I was a child and a Northern Hemisphere Christmas was the predominant visual theme. I always wondered how candles could be lit and be safe on a tree indoors….
It is no wonder that the Tuis, who adore and feast on flax flower nectar are appearing at the sugar water feeder with pollen coating their heads when you look at this macro photo of a flax flower. The shape of each part of the flower is the perfect curve for the nectar feeding birds beaks.

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Flax plant


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It is heavy with pollen and only one of a myriad of such flowers on each stalk.
Christmas candles…… perhaps not but a Christmas feast for the birds.

Red sky at night, shepherd’s delight….

So many evenings of late have seen bright sunsets amid the clouds. This one from a few nights ago had us hopeful of a fine day following.
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It was not to be.

This sunset from last night also held promise.
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Although there was this gale bending the Birch tree over very dramatically.
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The gale lashed the house relentlessly all night and today has been little better. We were also drenched in rain with roads closed due to flooding.

Today was our belated Christmas Day with one part of the family so we covered presents (which had been waiting some time)
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with plastic bags, loaded up food in a plastic clothes basket, donned our coats and off we went for lunch and a fun afternoon. A four year old and his two year old sister kept things lively and fun.

The weather had cleared by late this afternoon although the gales continue. We spotted some Royal Spoonbills in the Pauatahanui Inlet along with a large flock of Black Swans.

Can you spot the two vague white dots out in the water? They are the Spoonbills.
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We did get much closer to one but it sensed our presence and off it flew.

The Pohutukawas were still being shaped by the winds
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and this gull was snuggled down in the tufty beach grass taking a well-earned rest from the battering forces.
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No sunset tonight so little hope of better weather tomorrow it would seem……

A news item I read late this afternoon indicated exceptionally high temperatures in parts of Australia while the east coast of America is experiencing bitterly cold, snowy conditions. We are battened down safe and sound.

Keep safe wherever you are.

Towering Agave

This Agave Americana has caught my eye in the past two weeks.

DSCF6060It is considered a weed by some but I cannot find it on the banned plant list here in New Zealand. It is growing alongside State Highway 58 on the grassy edge of the road. It will be regularly coated with salt laden air and sea spray as well as taking a battering from northwesterly gales.

Every so often we spy a single plant like this reaching maturity and reaching for the sky , competing for height against a light standard, with its spreading flower head structure.
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I found this information about it:
Stout, succulent, rhizomatous perennial, with leaves in a basal rosette. Rigid, leathery, hairless, fleshy leaves (1-2 m x 15 cm) are triangular in cross section, with margins lined with raised, coarse 5 mm teeth 4 cm apart, and tipped with a conical, hard spine (25 mm long). Flowering stems, which are 7-10 m tall and produced rapidly at maturity (after 10-15 years), are candelabra-like clusters of many yellow flowers borne on branches off the main stem which are followed by seed capsules containing black seeds (5 cm long). After flowering the basal rosette dies and is replaced by several small lateral rosettes (daughters). Source: http://weedbusters.co.nz/weed_info/detail.asp?WeedID=35
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The last one I saw in my local area collapsed in a very dramatic manner once it had flowered and there is no evidence of any “daughters” growing at that spot.

For now I am watching this one unfold as I stretch my neck to see what is happening high above the road.

Do other readers see these plants?