Thursday, May 19, 2011

This week in my garden

Meanwhile, here at home, my garden has some pretty pockets to it.

When I was choosing these Bearded Iris to plant a few years back I was careful to select one early bloomer, one mid season bloomer and one late bloomer. But Mother Nature steps in and lets them all bloom at the same time. So much for planning. But the white daisies grow in among the blooms and look pretty even though, really and truely speaking, they are just weeds; I prefer to call them wildflowers. They live happily all over my garden.

Again, I had hoped to space out my Clematis blooms but, no, they all want to bloom at once. The white one does stay sporadically in bloom right on through the summer. I need to check the names on these.

The Aquilegia (Columbine) are all out right now. This is one of the last I have left of what used to be a full bed of yellow blooming aquilegia - sadly, when we did our building project a few years back that garden bed got decimated and although they had self seeded for a number of years I lost a lot of plants. Then when I tried to replace them the yellow was very difficult to find.

So I had to get a selection of other colors and here is one of them. Oops, they don't really grow sideways like this.

For right now, here is my white garden. It was planned as a white garden but later in the season it is awash with blue from "volunteer" Larkspur and Caryopteris. But for now the white daisies give a pretty airy feel along with the white salvia and a couple of variegated sage for interest.

Lastly, the Kousa Dogwood is out with the Nepetea at it's feet. A few years back when we had the seventeen year cicadas come out they really got all over this tree and I was wondering if I might lose it. But it has kept on and is coming back to what it used to be.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

A trip to Maungatautari

On my recent trip to New Zealand I spent several hours visiting the Maungatautari Ecological Island Trust property which is an ambitious project to "remove forever, introduced mammalian pests and predators from Maungatautari, and restore to the forest a healthy diversity of indigenous plants and animals not seen in our lifetime". You might like to find out more by going to their website here

And perhaps you will enjoy some of the photos I took.

As you first enter the Southern Enclosure you are walking on this track. With the removal of wild pigs and goats all the vegetation has a chance to grow without being constantly pruned by nibbling mammals.

You pass by plants that have become New Zealand national icons.

This photo was taken from the top of the canopy tower which is a 16 metre high platform that allows visitors to be amid the forest canopy.

This is a pair of takahe that have learned how to more easily find food.

I was looking to take photos that showed the variety of green and how there are parts of the bush that are dark and then parts that are light. This is to provide background/inspiration for a quilt I am making depicting the colors of New Zealand.

The day had been overcast and very windy but as we were leaving the sky began to clear and I looked up to take this one final photo.

Thank you to my sister K who took sister C and I to this wonderful place.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

A Moment to Shine

Today was the first of many moments to shine for my artist friend Jill Banks as she unveiled her huge artistic endeavor.

If you look back to my blog posting of January 1 you will be reminded that that was the day I posed as "face # 1" for Jill's project "100 Faces in 100 Days". In a magnificent follow through Jill did complete her project on day 100 of 2011.

Today was the opening reception for the public showing of all the 100 faces. It was very exciting to see all 100 paintings hung together as a finished project. Jill had kindly supplied name tags for all her "faces" and it was fun to be in the room and glance at a nametag, then the face and then go find that painting on the wall.

I'm sure you can figure out who of the two of us above is the artist and who is the subject of the painting on the top left.

If you want to read more about this artist and her project go visit her webpage here

And finally, note my great admiration for someone who was able to make a New Year's Resolution and follow through and complete the project.

A round of applause please for an outstanding effort by a wonderful artist. Well done Jill!

Friday, May 6, 2011

Dart River Wilderness Safari

As mentioned in the earlier posting I have been on a Wilderness Safari experience on the Dart River in the Mt Aspiring National Park in southern New Zealand. Our day began when we were picked up outside our holiday apartment in this coach and we then set off on a ride of about an hour to Glenorchy. Above, we have stopped for a glimpse up the valley where we will be going. For right now, the water we overlook is Lake Wakatipu.

Once we got to Glenorchy, a small town of only about 200 people, most of whom work in the tourist and farming industry, we needed to change from the coach to this four wheel drive version. We set off up the valley admiring the spectacular scenery and soon were off sealed road and onto the gravel version.

Now we have arrived at the end of the road which is in the Mount Aspiring National Park. We needed to take a walk through the treed area towards the river to reach our boat. As you will see in later photos, the area is very stony. As a result the water drains away from the ground very quickly and walking on this ground felt very spongy. The trees take a very long time to decay when they fall as the air and ground are very dry.

Once we got to the river this is what we saw.

And here is our jetboat pulling into position to pick us up. Before getting on board we all had to don our provided water proof jackets and life vests.

My traveling companions on this adventure were my two sisters; it was a brisk and chilly ride on the jetboat.

Alas, everyone cannot sit in the front seats but we were seated in the middle row, right behind Brad, our driver. Right now he is wearing his cap but it blew off at least twice on the journey; obviously this has happened before as it was attached to his life vest by a cord so he did not lose it.

Here we are passing by Paradise. You can see how the river is full of smooth river stone.

This was one of the very few large obstacles that had to be negotiated. The jetboats move along very fast and taking photos is quite a challenge. The other boat that was traveling with us had just shot around the other side of this rock but I was not quick enough pressing the camera shutter.

Here is our companion boat. You can get an idea from this shot of how shallow the water is making jetboats ideally suited for this.

The river bed is not always full of water and the depths and locations of the higher stone areas can change after a lot of water has rushed down the riverbed. We thought our driver was doing a masterful job of negotiating the water and we thought he must have been very experienced on the Dart River. Closer to the end of our trip we found out he had been on the boat for only six months.

Yes, my finger was on the camera shutter as often as it could be. The scenery is just stunning.

Once we arrived back at Glenorchy we need to wait for the coach to take us back to Queenstown. Here I was in back of the building that houses the Dart River Jet Safari office. The rack holds the waterproof boots that are provided to the more adventurous tourists who do the Funyak Safari (a funyak is an inflatable kayak). But I was more intrigued by the house behind the hedge. Those homeowners wanted privacy as their property was ringed by a high fence. But take a look at the roof of the house - yes, that is grass!

And so ended our Dart River trip. It was a great experience. As someone who does not ride roller coasters or ferris wheels I was a little apprehensive about the jet boat portion of the trip but it turned out to be an exhilarating ride that I am glad I had.

Remember, if you want to get a better look at a photo simply left click on it and it will bring a larger version to your screen.

Gone missing?

It is a while since I last posted. But in that time I have been visiting "Middle Earth". These random photos are my proof. Above is a shot taken in Glenorchy, a small town at the head of Lake Wakatipu.

A roadside shot taken looking towards the Mount Aspiring National Park.

Paradise? Indeed, this is the original homestead built in the settlement named Paradise.

Another view inside the Mount Aspiring National Park. Much filming was done in this area for the Lord of the Rings movies.

Another shot taken in Paradise, renamed Lothlorien in the Lord of the Rings movies.

More later as I get my photographs sorted out. And in case you have not figured out where I am for this posting I am in the southern portion of the South Island of New Zealand.