Not here today: #1


Mt Taranaki, New Zealand. Image: Su Leslie 2019

As Auckland is back in Covid 19 lock-down and we’re not allowed outside the city boundaries, I thought I’d flip through my photo archive each day, and enjoy the memories of places I’ve been and hopefully will return to again.

Taranaki is a favourite destination of mine; not least because it hosts an annual garden festival. The 2020 programme arrived in the mail recently and I’d been making tentative plans to go. Probably just as well I haven’t booked accommodation!

A special place

img_6329 Image: Su Leslie 2019

Last November I visited Taranaki in New Zealand’s North Island for the annual garden festival. Armed with my carefully annotated programme and map, I criss-crossed the provence, visiting an array of private gardens whose owners had kindly opened them to the public for the duration of the festival.

All were beautiful and interesting, but the one that has proved to be the most memorable was neither on my list, nor a private garden.

img_6316 Entrance, Hollard Gardens, Kaponga, Taranaki, NZ. Image: Su Leslie 2019

Hollard Gardens was established in 1927 by the then owners, Bernie and Rose Hollard. While the garden is now owned and managed by the Taranaki Regional Council, “Hollard Gardens is unique in the fact that it is an achievement of almost a lifetime of work by a private individual. It is a plantsman’s garden and a reflection of patience and horticultural skill.” (The History of Hollards)

“Bernie selected his plants based on personal appeal and whether they would fill gaps in his existing collections of species or varieties. The overall design of the garden considered not only the aesthetics, but whether a plant would thrive in its environment.” (The History of Hollards)

The gardens consist of several areas, including a woodland glade, avenues of lawn lined with different rhododendrons, hydrangeas and other flowering shrubs, and a kitchen garden.

It was the kitchen garden that made Hollard so memorable and special for me. It was one of several organic gardens I visited that have been designed according to permaculture principles, but the most accessible and informative.

That the garden is managed by the Regional Council demonstrates an official commitment to sustainable food production which I find refreshing and reassuring.

Lens-Artist Photo Challenge | a special spot

Also posted to Friday Flowers

The Changing Seasons: March 2017

First light on Mt Ruapehu, Central Plateau, NZ. Image: Su Leslie, 2017

First light on Mt Ruapehu, Central Plateau, NZ. Image: Su Leslie, 2017

I’m being a bit metaphorical with this Changing Seasons post, focusing on my road-trip with the boy-child last weekend.

Since he left home last June, I’ve only seen my child for more than a few hours at a time when he has been ill; in need of that special “mummy” care.

Last weekend we visited his grandfather in Whanganui; a road-trip of around 700km together. While it’s far from the first time we’ve traveled together, it was the first time we could share the driving and the costs. More importantly, as I quickly realised, we also had to share the decision-making.

My son is an adult now and the seasons of our respective lives have changed.

His road-trip ended at New Plymouth airport; with a flight back to Auckland and work. Mine involved a few more hours in the car (about half of them in Auckland traffic) — and a chance to get all nostalgic about New Zealand’s beautiful rural hinterland.

The Changing Seasons is a monthly challenge hosted by Cardinal Guzman. Please visit to see the Cardinal’s month, and find links to other participants.

There are two versions of the challenge:

Version 1 (The Changing Seasons V1):

Tag your posts with #MonthlyPhotoChallenge and #TheChangingSeasons
Each month, post 5-20 photos in a gallery.
Don’t use photos from your archive. Only new shots.

Version 2 (The Changing Seasons V2):

Tag your posts with #MonthlyPhotoChallenge and #TheChangingSeasons
Each month, post one photo (recipe, painting, drawing, whatever) that represents your interpretation of the month.
Don’t use archive stuff. Only new material!