Some little bursts of colour, from the Victorian Flower Garden at Hamilton Gardens, New Zealand. Images: Su Leslie 2019
The Pacific Ocean, Otago coastline, New Zealand. Image: Su Leslie 2018
You realise how isolated New Zealander when you can stand on an east coast beach and know that the nearest landmass beyond the horizon is Chile.
Feijoa blossom. Image: Su Leslie 2019
Rain has set in for the day, with lightening strikes and hail forecast.
I’m hoping all the new buds and plants survive, including the feijoas (Acca sellowiana). In all the years we’ve had feijoa trees, this is the first time I’ve seen significant flowering.
One of the more unusual gardens included in the Taranaki Garden Festival was actually a cemetery — Te Henui Cemetery.
On the edge of New Plymouth’s CBD, Te Henui is the city’s oldest cemetery, with graves dating back to 1861. It occupies almost 10 hectares (24 acres) and is extensively planted with fruit and ornamental trees, while flower beds bring colour, texture and fragrance to the (mostly heritage) plots.
Large-scale maintenance is done by the council’s park’s’ staff, but the magnificent flower-plantings are entirely due to the efforts of a small group of volunteers.
I find cemeteries fascinating; sad and poignant, and full of glimpses into other people’s lives and families. Sadly, in New Zealand at least, I don’t often find them beautiful. Graves that are lovingly tended by partners and children quickly become neglected as generations pass on. Many of us don’t know even where our grandparents and other members of the wider whanau are buried, let alone have the ability to visit and care for their graves.
Through their wonderful gardening efforts, the volunteers at Te Henui are dissolving time and distance. The beautiful, tranquil, contemplative space that they maintain and watch over helps connect the present and the past, and remind us all of our humanity.
When we think of monochrome in photography, it’s often as an alternative to colour — or even as its opposite.
We might allow sepia — with its connotations of nostalgia.
But sometimes, nature presents us with monochrome images; green leaves, a bunch of flowers, or a perfect blue day on the lake.
I’m sure there are others.
Sad to be leaving New Plymouth, but enjoying the rugged coastline and black sand beaches — the road works not so much.
A detour to the wonderful Hamilton Gardens gave me another little horticultural fix – and helped me avoid Auckland’s rush hours.