Tag Archives: Kowhai

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.

Flax plant

Flax plant


DSCF6068
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.

Come for a walk around the native plants in my garden

It is a really miserable day here with a howling cold southerly blowing and showers sweeping over at regular intervals. Winter is showing its hand.

But on a beautiful, warm late autumn afternoon over the weekend I wandered about my garden to photograph examples of the native trees or plants I enjoy. Some of the specimens were planted by the previous owner of the house who was a passionate gardener. Some have been planted by us and even more have been the result of birds dropping seeds into the garden and the natives have taken root and flourished.

I have attempted to find the identifying names for the plants but please let me know if I have named one incorrectly.

I hope you enjoy the stroll too.

Taupata Coprosma Repens

Taupata
Coprosma Repens

Native hebe

Native hebe


Kowhai "Dragon's gold" Sophora microphylla

Kowhai “Dragon’s gold”
Sophora microphylla

Whiteywood.  Mahoe Melicytus ramiflorus

Whiteywood. Mahoe
Melicytus ramiflorus

Cabbage tree. Te Kouka. Cordyline Australis

Cabbage tree. Te Kouka.
Cordyline Australis

5 fingers.  Pseudopanax laetus

5 fingers. Pseudopanax laetus

5 fingers

5 fingers

Lancewood. Pseudopanax crassifolius

Lancewood. Pseudopanax crassifolius

Griselinia littoralis "variegata"

Griselinia littoralis “variegata”

Puka Puka.  Meryta sinclairii

Puka Puka. Meryta sincalairii

puka puka seeds

puka puka seeds

After the feasting

On Wednesday I posted a photo of the beautiful kowhai tree flowers in my garden. They were just waiting for the feasting to begin and suddenly it did. Tuis have visited the tree regularly all week, supping on the nectar. The Tuis are delirious with joy over this; their very favourite food.

Tuis are larger and heavier than blackbirds but swing through and around the slender branches on Kowhai trees with acrobatic ease as they harvest the bounty using their nicely curved beaks.

Today the majority of flowers look like this and the grass is gradually becoming littered with spent pieces of flower.

I am fortunate that across a fence on the reserve there is another Kowhai tree which is now providing another sumptuous feast for the happy, well fed Tuis.

As well as the air whirring at times as the Tuis swoop in or across the garden to feed, they also fill the air with their wonderful unique songs. It is a special time of the year right now.

Technically it is road

When we looked to purchase this home over 20 years ago, our lawyer alerted us to the fact that on one boundary there was strip of city council reserve land.

The city council maintained the reserve and someone had planted a selection of native trees on it. Contract changes some 10 years ago saw this maintenance cease and the grass grew to knee high length despite my repeated calls to the council. Their argument was that it was our problem.

Luckily a neighbour knew an official in the council and rang this chap on our behalf. This resulted in a couple of managers coming to view the reserve to determine who owned it and who was responsible for it.

To our surprise one of the managers was the head of the Roading department and he quickly put things to right by announcing that it is technically “road” and the council’s responsibility.

When the road had been marked out on the original plans it was to be a cul-de-sac and there was to be a bus turning area which had quickly become the reserve once the road was extended further up the hill.

Whoever planted the native trees chose two Golden Totara, a Kowhai, a Kauri, a Karaka, some Taupatas and a Kahikatea. They were all planted with a lot of space between them.

Several Kauri have failed despite our care and concern but this one is looking happier.

The Golden Totara need to be trimmed to maintain visibility on the intersection.

The Kowhai is looking aged and gnarly but survives and flowers well.

Kowhai

The Karaka has fruited heavily this year but lacks any vigour and height and the Kahitakea is thriving. It is gaining height (it is now taller than our two storey house) it is a lovely shape and now has an epiphyte clinging to it as it would in the bush.

Kahikatea

Epiphyte on Kahikatea tree

The Taupatas are huge and need trimming at times. The tougher the conditions the better they like it. And they seed prolifically.

I wonder who decided way back in the 1970s that planting giant native trees on a section of “road” reserve in an urban area was a wise thing? I fear for the stately, beautiful Kahikatea as it can attain great height.

Likewise the Kauri, although they grow very slowly and struggle in our clay soils. Kauri like wet feet and being surrounded by other trees as they grow.

For now I really enjoy the little patch of native specimens on our boundary but I do worry about the future as they grow ever taller.
I hope something sustainable will be the plan for the future.