Lupin Land

Lupin Land

As someone who has always struggled to keep lupins alive, what with woolly aphids, rot – and plants that seem to lose the will to live beyond their first season – the vast drifts of naturalized Russell lupins on the South Island must count amongst my Top 10 encounters with plants – ever.lupinslupins
In the valleys of the Southern Alps around Queenstown and Glenorchy and on our way from Queenstown towards Mount Cook, through Lindis Pass we must have driven through 25 miles of spectacular lupin displays – along the verges, in the valleys, under willow trees, on rocky hillsides and on river banks – all at their peak. It was a mesmerising sight, especially when the lupins are backed by snow covered peaks.lupins
lupins Who knew that they love to grow in boggy conditions, in shade, and on shingle banks next to rushing rivers? Certainly not me.lupinslupins
Yellow tree lupins have been a feature all over the South Island, seemingly happy to grow anywhere and everywhere, even on the edge of beaches, but the Russell lupins seem to confine themselves to this cool lakeland area. I did notice (but fail to get photos) that tree lupins growing close to the Russell lupins tend to hybridise so that instead of being uniformly yellow as elsewhere, there are whites and soft pinks too.
lupinslupins
But whatever colour, and whichever type of lupin, they thrive in New Zealand as nowhere else. I have serious lupin envy!

Share this :Share on FacebookShare on Google+Tweet about this on TwitterPin on Pinterest
Land of the Long White Cloud

Land of the Long White Cloud

– North Island

Botanically, New Zealand is an extraordinary country. Because it drifted off from the rest of the world so early on, its natural flora is very limited and with the exception of the red flowers of the Metrosideros (New Zealand Christmas Tree), flowers tend to be insignificant, with a natural wooded landscape that is predominantly a mixture of trees in many shades of green and tree ferns. It’s not really surprising that the settlers wanted to introduce some colour – either with plants that reminded them of home, or with more exotic species – all of which thrive in the climate.new zealand,woodlandtree ferns
As a result, many of the roadside weeds are what we consider desirable plants in our own gardens. There’s a double pink rose that is as common as our dog rose growing in the hedges and along the field edges, agapanthus are considered an invasive weed and the beautiful wild carrot Daucus carota that I nurture carefully for summer display in my borders, grows thickly and decoratively on the verges, but is listed as an agricultural pest.roseagapanthusdaucus-carota
Mixed in amongst native cordylines, pittosporum, pampas grass and phormiums there are gingers and cannas from Asia and Red Hot Pokers from South Africa.
CannaNew Zealand flax
In the towns of the warm Northland, the streets are lined with Jacarandas, Metrosideros, Bougainvillia and occasionally Clianthus – commonly called Kaka Beak – another colourful native tree. I’ve seen clianthus as a wall shrub, but never previously seen it as a large tree. It is quite a spectacular sight.jacarandaBougainvilliaKaka Beak treeKaka Beak

Share this :Share on FacebookShare on Google+Tweet about this on TwitterPin on Pinterest
The New Zealand Christmas Tree

The New Zealand Christmas Tree

The last time I saw this glorious tree was at Logan Botanic Garden where it flowers in August. Here it is just coming into flower and will be at its peak by Christmas.Metrosideros excelsa
It’s Maori name is Phutukawa and botanically it is Metrosideros excelsa, but New Zealand Christmas tree is a lot easier to remember. The streets of Russell on the Bay of Islands where we are staying are lined with them and by the time they are all in full bloom it will be a spectacular sight. Both here and in Scotland the flowers are a magnet for bees and the trees emit an audible hum.Metrosideros excelsa

Share this :Share on FacebookShare on Google+Tweet about this on TwitterPin on Pinterest