It's late Sunday afternoon, and we have arrived back - not from Samoa but from Nelson, top of the South Island, New Zealand. Brr! I have just wandered around the Moosey garden with my long range spectacles on, to see what's grown, what's changed, etc. in the last four days.
Humph! Apart from the fact that it's about seven degrees, and I knew it was winter anyway, things look bleak. I imagined the Moosey garden reaching out and talking sweetly to me on my return - welcome home, you lovely head gardener - that sort of thing.
No way! It's cold and wet, and the garden has a peeved and sullen face. The Renga Renga underneath the Wattles looks dreadful - nice touch, thanks Mr Frost, nice touch. The lawns look dreadful. The Hen House Gardens look dreadful (memo to self - remove weeds in Hen House, lay newspaper and mulch - do it first thing). The Pond Paddock gardens look dreadful - what a messy design. All in all it was a big mistake to wear my glasses!
Winter Garden Colour
I didn't do any quasi-botanical or garden writing while we were away. I decided that winter days in Nelson are much the same as winter days in West Melton. There was more colour though - I saw lots of early pink old-style Camellias flowering, often alongside huge clumps of orange Kniphobias. Possibly a colour combination to frighten off the mid-winter gardening blues? Some of Nelson's daffodils were flowering, and clumps of Canna lilies had obviously just finished. But the Red Hot Pokers splashed their red hot colours everywhere, particularly on front fences and by mailboxes.
Nelson's rural fields seemed to be rather green and wet, with lines of olive flaxes and multi-headed forked cabbage trees - those two spiky New Zealand icons. Old apple-pickers' cabins sat next door to trendy new homes, and oddly there seemed to be properties for sale at every highway corner and down every rural back-road. The huge apple orchards were mostly winter drab, lines of knobby grey trees frozen in the middle of some mass tree exercise session - with grey knobby arms extended at exactly the same angles, a cartoon-trees corps-de-ballet.
Rustic and Rural
I bought some funky pottery (a jug and a bowl), and raced around taking photographs of Red Hot Pokers (I want some!). The family did a gentle bush walk at the top of Abel Tasman National Park, enjoying the beech trees and shrubs of the native bush - ferns, green Astelias, mosses, Pepper trees and Pseudopanaxes. I peered from a rocky lookout down (far below) into the Takaka valley - it was a chilly three degrees, and I wondered about being warm in Samoa - snorkelling, swimming, and so on. Hmm...
In typical fashion, the strongest images I have are strictly memory only. The mysterious mossy rock gully in the bush (I didn't take the camera), the tuis flitting over the large flax bushes in the paddock by our Tasman Village cottage, rusty-red willow branches edging the streams, a hillside covered in mature cabbage trees - photographs I didn't think to take.
Winter is an extremely subtle garden time - shrubs are noticeable but boring, and garden trees are all arms and legs. Red rose hips, rosy red apples left in an orchard, the weedy Clematis we call Old Man's Beard running rampant through pockets of forest. Hmm... there's a lot I've missed - I wish I'd stopped and clicked a bit more of the plant life!