Eastbourne mamaku

This fine mamaku, growing close to the house in a friend’s Eastbourne garden, was planted many years ago by his father. A second, much younger specimen growing elsewhere in the garden was transplanted as a seedling from a bush garden in Kelburn, where I used to live.

Cyathea medullaris, popularly known as the black tree fern, is a large tree fern up to 20m tall. It is distributed across the south-west Pacific from Fiji to Pitcairn and New Zealand. It is called mamaku, katātā, kōrau, or pītau in the Māori language.” (Wikipedia)

What’s in a name?


After yesterday’s
rain, this morning’s air is sweet.
My neighbours have a
fragrant tree … and no, I don’t
know its botanical name.

(08 March 2015)

Tanka consist of five units (often treated as separate lines when romanized or translated) usually with the following pattern of on: 5-7-5-7-7.

The 5-7-5 is called the kami-no-ku (上の句 “upper phrase”), and the 7-7 is called the shimo-no-ku (下の句 “lower phrase”). (Wikipedia)




Dawn. A south wind. Leaves
tap the glass. The rain drops in

(15 February 2015)


Two mornings in a row, the leaves of the Cordyline banksii outside my window have awakened me early. Wellington’s summer has been fine and warm, so these few cool days, with their southerly air flow, seem like a harbinger of autumn.

Fallen frond

fallen nīkau frond (01 February 2015)

fallen nīkau frond (01 February 2015)

There are nīkau palms in a number of locations around Wellington city – as well as the iconic sculptural versions which feature in and around Civic Square.

The fallen nīkau frond shown here is from one of the palms in a paved area on the corner of Victoria and Manners Streets.

“The nīkau (Rhopalostylis sapida) is a palm tree endemic to New Zealand, and the only palm native to New Zealand” (Wikipedia).

Strokes of havoc

hi-viz orange (02 May 2014)

hi-viz orange (02 May 2014)

The din I heard as I emerged from my bathroom turned out to be coming from a chainsaw wielded by one of the workmen the city council had sent to strip the ivy and other creepers from the green bank behind my apartment block. The devastation they’d wreaked appalled me, and I felt some concern for my own garden – lavender, roses, and camellias.

Scheduled to go into the city, I caught a bus whilst they were on their morning smoko, but before doing so I took a minute to squeeze off a few close-ups of the monarch butterfly disturbed and dislodged by the hack and rack of the two orange-clad, hi-viz-wearing workmen.

My garden had never been in danger, in fact … although the next day my nose dripped, my eyes itched … and, oh my, such sneezing fits! – the ivy, I’m guessing.

The title of this post and the phrase, “hack and rack”, come from Binsey Poplars by Gerard Manley Hopkins.


Pruning the roses

Iceberg rose (29 Apr 10)

Iceberg rose (29 April 2010)

A few days ago, I was wondering when to prune the standard rose in my little courtyard garden. My Iceberg had flowered well, its sheltered location having protected it from winds and rain, and I was reluctant to cut away flower buds. When I was young, it was not unusual to get out the secateurs in June, but it seems July is the month when most roses are pruned nowadays, according to the Yates New Zealand website.

That evening (21 July), our region was shaken by a series of earthquakes, the largest of which measured 6.5 on the Richter scale.

Rose pruning seems to cause angst for even experienced gardeners. For a couple of days, though, my angst was focused on whether Wellington would get another, bigger shake-up.

Yesterday, I got out (misty drizzle notwithstanding) and snipped the bush into shape. “Even if you did no pruning, the roses would survive,” says the Yates guide. After all, roses growing in the wild never got pruned.

“Roses do, however, respond really well to pruning. They flower well on the new growth that pruning stimulates and, after pruning, they’re neat and tidy and look as if they’re comfortable in the garden.”


The image, dating from 29 April 2010, is one of a number of shots captured in a friend’s garden.