Back in time; the gardener’s desk

Desk; the gardener’s cottage at Tupare, New Plymouth. The cottage has been left looking much as it would have in the 1960s. Image: Su Leslie 2019

Six Word Saturday

Friday flowers

img_5823 Image: Su Leslie 2019

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.

img_5826 Image: Su Leslie 2019
img_5836 Image: Su Leslie 2019
img_5822 Image: Su Leslie 2019

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.

img_5827 Image: Su Leslie 2019
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img_5824 Su Leslie 2019

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.

img_5835 Image: Su Leslie 2019

A walk in the park

Three blue-purple teardrop-shaped lights on jet-black background. Seen at New Plymouth Festival of Lights, 2016. Image: Su Leslie, 2016

From the ‘Glow Zone’; light art at New Plymouth Festival of Lights. Image: Su Leslie, 2016

While in New Plymouth earlier this month, the Big T and I went to the Festival of Lights at Pukekura Park.

This is a free event, which runs annually from mid December until the end of January. It started in 1953, and in recent years attracts over 100,000 visitors.

Throughout the park, lights are attached to trees and bridges, set alongside paths or in gardens to create a colourful wonderland each night. A series of light sculptures — like the light couch above  — pop up around the trail to surprise and delight.

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Lighting the waterfall is a regular feature of the festival. Seen at New Plymouth Festival of Light, 2016. Image: Su Leslie, 2016

I particularly loved ‘Mirror – Ballistic’ — disco balls suspended above the Poets’ Bridge, and these ‘Jellyfish’ hanging over the lake.

It had been raining for several days when we went to the festival, and although some of the paths were a bit muddy (and it was incredibly humid), visitors were undeterred — simply carrying raincoats and umbrellas, and putting their kids in gumboots rather than sandals.

I found this quote, and for me it sums up the spirit of the Festival of Lights.

Light gives of itself freely, filling all available space. It does not seek anything in return; it asks not whether you are friend or foe. It gives of itself and is not thereby diminished.

~Michael Strassfeld



Nature: big and small

Surf life savers at Mairangi Bay, Auckland. Stormy day at the beach. Image: Su Leslie, 2016

In praise of Surf Life Saving New Zealand. Even on this stormy day at Mairangi Bay, Auckland, the flags and guards were out. The organisation is a non-profit and protects over 80 NZ beaches each summer. Image: Su Leslie, 2016

I’m feeling sad for the thousands of New Zealanders whose summer holiday spirit is being dampened (quite literally) by the frequent storms that are hitting our country. For many families, the period between Christmas and mid-January is traditionally a time to pack the car and head off to campgrounds, motels and holiday homes. I guess there will be a lot of Scrabble and Jenga being played right now.

Stormy seas at Takapuna Beach, Auckland, New Zealand. Image: Su Leslie, 2016

Takapuna Beach, New Year’s Day 2016. A couple of holidaymakers from the nearby campground brave the coastal walk. Image: Su Leslie, 2016

For farmers and gardeners though, the rain is very welcome; bringing some respite from drought.

Trees silhouetted against mist, January 2016, New Plymouth, Taranaki. Image: Su Leslie, 2016

Country road, Taranaki. The ocean is out there — somewhere. Image: Su Leslie, 2016.

I shot the two images just above and below, within about 10 minutes of each other, at Paritutu, New Plymouth. The first looks like it could have been taken on any winter’s day, but it is the height of summer. And when the mist cleared a little, the lush vegetation brought some much-needed colour to the landscape.

Sugar Loaf Islands, New Plymouth, Taranaki, NZ. Shot from reserve adjacent to Paritutu. Image: Su Leslie, 2016

Sunshine between the rain showers, Sugar Loaf Islands, New Plymouth, Taranaki, NZ. Image: Su Leslie, 2016

Home from our road-trip, I’m starting to harvest the fruit in our garden. This morning I picked tomatoes and plums. Tomorrow I think the first fig will be ripe.

Close-up shot of ripening tomatoes. Image: Su Leslie, 2016.

Almost ready to pick. Tomatoes ripen in my garden. Image: Su Leslie, 2016.

Close-up shot of ripe cherry tomatoes. Image: Su Leslie, 2016

First harvest. Image: Su Leslie, 2016.

This post was written for Sally D’s Mobile Photography Challenge. This week’s theme is nature.