Tokaanu Bay, Lake Taupo, NZ. Image: Su Leslie 2019
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.
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.
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.
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.
Sunshine, cake, a ukulele orchestra, more sunshine, views of the mountain and lots of beautiful gardens.