Friday, January 30, 2015

In the Garden in January

First the disclaimer - clearly you will notice that my title for this post does not say "In My Garden in January".  I have just returned from two weeks in New Zealand and my return flight was a bit of a nail biter wondering if my East Coast US airport was going to be open as weather forecasts were preparing all for a huge winter storm. Thankfully, the storm was not  as bad as predicted and my flight landed about ten minutes early as it turned out.

When I go to New Zealand around Christmas time I always look forward to seeing the pohutukawa trees which are in their full bloom of red flowers at that time - often referred to as New Zealand's Christmas tree - but by mid to late January I was too late for that magnificent show by nature. Instead, the way I will recall this trip was by the agapanthus which were all over the place and showing off to the max! Many homes have them growing along the front of their property and you'll be driving along in the open countryside and just come across clumps of them growing beside the road. The photo above was of one of the many I took when I spent an overnight at my sister's home outside of the town of Te Awamutu.
My first stop however was in Palmerston North. I had heard that one way to help with jetlag (I had an 18 hour difference to deal with) was to get outside and walk around in the sunshine as soon as possible in your new location so your body knows there is a new time to deal with. This is a sight in the central Square in Palmerston North as I was taking my jetlag "prescription".
The end of 2014 marked the 100 year anniversary of the outbreak of WWI and the poppy has become a symbol of that war. You have no doubt seen the awesome photographs of the art installation of a sea of poppies in the moat surrounding the Tower of London. In Australia and New Zealand they have been inspired by that sight and are planning some type of installation of their own (I don't know many details) but people everywhere are hard at work crafting poppies. I was in Palmerston North for the 2015 New Zealand Quilt Symposium and they were using the poppy quite a lot in their displays.
I like the rustic look of the fence and my sister's mailbox with the agapanthus. Most of the blooms are blue but here and there, some come out white.
These things practically grow like weeds!  Look how this one has taken root on this tree, in my sister's front garden, where an old branch had broken off years earlier.
Perhaps the goat could add the agapnahtus to it's diet!
Again, I just liked the contrast of the airy big blooms with the rustic fence and abandoned dog kennel and the long dry grass in the background.
Moving on now. The next night I stayed over at my brother-in-law's home in readiness for we three setting off the next morning on a roadtrip north. Before leaving home John had been asked to collect the eggs from the neighbor's chickens (or chooks as they are routinely called in kiwiland). Yes, right in the heart of a neighborhood of smallish (think 1/4 acre) lots is this one with a very elegantly fenced enclosure on the front side lawn where three of these hens wander happily and provide eggs for the owners. I asked John if his two cats were a problem for the hens and he said for the first few days the cats would watch through the fence but then they lost interest.
By the next night we had reached our destination - "Harbour Vista" on the shoreline in Onerahi just outside Whangarei in Northland. We were to stay in a small and delightfully appointed two bedroom ground floor apartment there for three nights. I noticed this wonderful blooming succulent growing in a pot right outside the windows and was amazed at the flowers on it until my sister pointed out they are two different plants growing in the same pot. Nevertheless, I still think it looks really great!
And to prove I was in a different climatic zone these huge lilies were growing right outside in the small patch of garden as well. You can't tell from this photo but the plants are almost 5' tall.
We had decided to do a coastal road trip in the North taking in some of the beaches we remember going to as children but which also included many we had not seen before.  This one was on the last day and was, h'mm, let's see if I remember correctly, was it just beyond Langs Beach or just beyond Mangawai Heads? Of course it is not really a garden either but merely roadside weeds that took my  eye as I scrambled out of the car for "just one more photo of this beautiful coastline".
As I was putting away my camera my eye was suddenly taken by this pukeko hurrying through the grass just by the fence I had been using as my foreground for the previous photo.
And let me finish off with a photo of my own garden in January. Yes, this is the sight I was greeted with when I woke up the next morning (I got in after dark on Tuesday) so you can see why I chose different gardens to show you in my post today.