Autumn is evident even though rainfall is still low here and temperatures mild. Many of the deciduous trees in the garden have been dropping their leaves for weeks now due to the drought.
If we get some chilly nights some the trees might colour up more but many have leaves that look crispy dry with only some discolouration.
The Smoke Bush (Cotinus Coggygria) is showing its usual beauty, apparently unaffected by the lack of rain.
Last week the blackbirds were feasting on these but after some millimetres of rain the birds are back hunting worms instead.
The whole country is very, very dry with drought conditions in many places. Rain is desperately needed by people who farm the land and who grow plants. I am watering my vegies and plants on a daily basis and further water restrictions are on the horizon.
It is hot and it is dry.
Some refreshment would be welcome and would provide balance.
Something has been enjoying some refreshment eating this green leaved Kawakawa plant.
And a blackbird was eating these juicy berries.
Despite the lack of rain there is still green, juiciness to be found in my backyard thank goodness.
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.
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.
My eye has been caught in the past few days by clusters of fat yellow/orange berries hanging on native trees. They are Karaka trees which produce their very large berries in summer time.
There is a small Karaka tree on the reserve next to my home and it has plenty of berries on it too this year. It is a surprisingly small size given how big Karaka trees can grow and normally it has very few berries on it but this year it is dotted with the pretty coloured berries.
From Te Ara, the online encyclopaedia of New Zealand I read that the seed inside of each berry contains Karakin, a lethal toxin. Maori discovered that by first baking and then soaking the seeds in water they are safe for human consumption. Don’t try this at home without further detailed information I would suggest.
However in true symbiotic style our beautiful native wood pigeon, the Kereru is the only bird who can swallow these whopping berries and they help regenerate the Karaka trees.
The feast of berries this summer is going to fill the substantial bellies of Kereru who are appearing in our area in increasing numbers.
I wonder if the small tree near my home will be visited by passing Keruru? I hope so.