How to travel with a hydrangea, day two

My new plant and cutting looked much fresher this morning, after an overnight soak in their bucket. And thanks to the kindly hotelier providing some oversized plastic bags to keep the roots moist, they have made it to my next stop looking only a little limp.

I’m hoping another soak in the bucket, along with some of the abundant rain that’s falling, will keep them alive. I’m in a lodge with garden access, so they can pretend to be at home, rather than a hotel bathroom.

And the chrysanthemums — they’re a gift from my step-mother too, but the vanity was barely big enough for the hydrangeas, so they spent last night in the shower cubicle.

How to travel with a hydrangea

I visited my dad and stepmother today. Seeing how lovely their garden is looking, I confessed to a little hydrangea envy. My stepmother promptly produced a shovel and insisted I dig out a small bush to take home. She then took a cutting from a second hydrangea to give me as well.

I’m spending tonight and tomorrow night in (different) hotels, and I’ve never transported hydrangeas before. They’re spending tonight in a bucket of water in the bathroom, but have a fairly long (and bumpy) car ride tomorrow before I can get them back into the bucket.

Umberto Eco once wrote an essay called ‘How to Travel with a Salmon.’ I’m hoping the hydrangea proves a more rewarding — and less expensive — travelling companion.

A constant reminder

Rangitoto Island; Auckland’s newest and largest volcano. image: Su Leslie 2019

It’s just over 24 hours since the sudden volcanic eruption of Whakaari/White Island off New Zealand’s east coast left at least five people dead, 31 injured and eight more missing.

Volcanic activity is weirdly compelling to watch. Visitors have flocked to geologically active places since tourism began, and despite frequent eruptions and a perpetual, slightly toxic, steam cloud, Whakaari/White Island had become a major tourist attraction.

As I walk on a beach studded with the jagged remains of old lava flows, beneath one volcanic cone and within sight of several others, I’m conscious of how much of New Zealand’s topography has been (and continues to be) formed by volcanic activity.

Some volcanic fields, like that on which Auckland lies, tend to have single eruptions on specific sites within the field. Others, like Whakaari and the mountains of the central North Island are polygenetic, erupting multiple times with varying frequency and intensity.

No matter how much our rational brains understand this, yesterday’s tragedy is a somber reminder of how thin the crust we walk on really is.