Christchurch Botanic Gardens - Summer
Soon to be an intrepid world garden tourist, I have been practising in the local Botanic Gardens - important things, like trialing my new (budget) summer walking shoes, my new (too small) ethnic bag, and testing my stamina for walking on paved paths (ouch - sore feet).
Forget the horticultural details. I just don't have the right attitude for this type of garden reporting. First I spend ages trying to take people-free photographs of the river, with the ducks and the big grasses. Kayaking, punting, and renting canoes are extra popular in summer, and kayakers, punters and canooists keep gliding past. I fail!
I try to be more thoughtful in my photography. But the New Zealand native gardens look too scruffy, the Hosta gardens look too green, and the blue-only hydrangeas look too boring. About now I decide to take notes, and proudly write down two words.
'Noise' - the cicadas in the trees above are making a racket, sounding like a thousand taps have been turned on and left running. And 'Trees' - there are lots of them, fat, thin, knobby, smooth, full of cicadas. I point my camera into the sky to capture a group of ridiculously tall, thin ones which I think are some sort of pine...
What would a genuine plantswoman find here to enjoy and write about? I see visitors clutching pamphlets - they seem to know what to look for! I start following one - she looks wise, mature, and obviously knows her stuff. Thus I end up in the modern rose garden.
Roses, Roses, Roses...
I read the rose garden map, and locate my favourite red climber (Parkdirektor Riggers), but then get all keen photographing Matangi. According to the label it is a seedling of the striped (or crayon-painted) rose Picasso (which I'm trying to grow and trying not to worry about). I find a bed of the rose Royden, which my big rose book fails to list, and faithfully record the breeder and date - Cattermole, 1989. My Moosey plant knowledge is slowly but surely on the rise.
Then I spy the dahlias and the fuschias - they have such bright, vibrant colours, and I notice they all have impressive names. I decide there are as many types of dahlia as there are breeds of dog, with comparable variety of size and shape (pom-pom poodles come to mind). I note, and am impressed with, the Botanical gardeners' style of staking. Aargh! Guilt! The Moosey dahlias are still not staked, after eleven years worth of New Years' Resolutions. Move on, quickly!
The perennial Border
And then the long perennial border, sizzling in the mid-afternoon sunshine, comes into view. I love perennials! I take a series of pictures slanting on an angle, thinking myself quite artistic - but my photographs just look plain silly! This garden is chock-full of Canna lily clumps (all flowering magnificently), plus lots of purple and magenta phloxes and Monardas. I get all envious about the low clipped box hedge, and wish I had one! I don't usually even like box hedges!
Cordylines in the Bedding!
The sun continues to beat down, and now my feet are really hurting. Hopeless! How do real garden reporters do this? How do they manage to sound interested, informed, and captivated by garden visits? Perhaps they just sit down on the grass and make it all up!