Archive for the ‘Seasons & Cycles’ Category

Recycled cyclamen are a feature of my garden at present.

Usually I buy one or two potted cyclamen each winter to have colour inside when there’s little flowering outside. Once they finish flowering I pop them into a space in the garden and wait for them to flower again the next year. This year I didn’t buy any because I’d been given an orchid which flowered for weeks.

Leonardo Da Vinci was fond of cyclamen and he drew them in the margins of his manuscripts. In the Middle East, the cyclamen is also called ‘soap of the shepherds,’ because shepherds often used the saponin contained in the cyclamen tuber as a natural detergent that removed stains.

As each new flower unfolds I think
how lovely is this splash of pink

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Spring Equinox this year falls on Friday 23 September at 1.03pm. This is a time of balance when day and night are of equal length as we move from the dark time of winter into the light and warmth of summer. I enjoy winter with its cosiness and invitation to snuggle up inside. I also look forward to summer, when it’s comfortable to sit outside for meals, bare our limbs to the air, and paddle in the sea.

Kōwhai flowers

Locally the kōwhai trees are blooming, a sign that spring is truly here. Some say that the kōwhai symbolises personal growth and helps people to move on from the past with a renewed sense of adventure. Surely that is appropriate for this time of year, especially when we have just witnessed the transition of the British monarchy.

As our world moves from night to day
are new adventures on their way?

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Today marks 129 years since women in Aotearoa gained the right to vote in General Elections, and a good crowd gathered at midday for a celebration in front of the Kate Sheppard Memorial. This year there were seats provided – a welcome change. There were several excellent speakers, including Lianne Dalziel.

Rosemary du Plessis, Chair of the local branch of the National Council of Women
Mayor Lianne Dalziel

This is the last time I’m likely to hear Lianne speak as Mayor and, as she pointed out, our next Mayor will be a man. It’s a bit like moving from having a Queen to having a King.

Several speakers acknowledged the recent death of the Queen, and tonight’s news was full of preparations for her funeral. Nowhere on the national news did I hear any acknowledgement that it was Suffrage Day today. After lunch with a group of friends I went home and filled out my voting papers for the local body elections. This seemed a most appropriate day to do it.

Today’s the day we got the vote
a time that’s worthy to promote

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To see spring lambs was the purpose of our drive to Rangiora. There weren’t many, but we did see some on the main road, including these four asleep in the sun.

Four sleepy little lambs

When I came close to the fence they woke up and (l)ambled away.

Waking lambs

Rangiora’s central area is inviting with many fine old buildings. In fact, you’d hardly know there have been earthquakes. We lunched at Coffee Culture, sitting outside where they have several large tables. I think these are a good idea as it means you may have a chance to meet and talk to other people. They also provide magazines to browse. We looked at The Simple Things, which I’ve heard of but not read before, and also Good, a New Zealand magazine I’d never heard of. It usually takes us all week to get through the Listener and the Guardian Weekly, but Stephen is always keen to look at other publications for recipe ideas.

Lunching at Coffee Culture

Afterwards we visited the Public Library which includes a small gallery. Their current exhibition, until 6 October, is Ngahere – The Bush of Aotearoa by the Professional Weavers’ Network of NZ Inc. Lovely woven pieces filled the room.

Hanging artworks

There was a sign saying Please make sure children are supervised at all times in this exhibition. Presumably there is concern that children might finger the pieces. No need to warn adults to keep their hands off? I loved this piece by Karuna Peralta.

Jewels on the Forest Floor by Karuna Peralta.

A northern drive on sunny day
with sleepy lambs along the way

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Just one tulip is flowering this year. It’s one of the ten Atilla tulips I planted four years ago in memory of a friend who died. The first year I lifted them all, then replanted them, but they didn’t do much the second year, so I just left them after that. I was surprised to see this one flower. It’s been nearly smothered by those pesky wild anemones. Does anyone know how I can get rid of them? There seem to be more every year, undermining my preference not to have yellow flowers.

I do not want anemone
especially as it’s lemony

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Today we made our annual pilgrimage down Harper Avenue to revel in the wonderful display of cherry blossoms.

Cherry blossom in Harper Avenue

Across the road in Little Hagley Park there are swathes of various coloured daffodils, as well as blue and white-bells.


The blossoms last only a week or so but are absolutely breathtaking just now. There are more along Riccarton Avenue and in various other parts of the city, but Harper Avenue has the best display.

We know the blossoms will not stay
so best to view them right away

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Requiescat Regina

The Queen has died peacefully at Balmoral. In years to come people may look back on where they were when they heard this news. At 5.30am I was in bed listening to First Up when they said the news had been announced by the Guardian, then moments later there was an announcement by the BBC, and I listened to their tribute for thirty minutes. This included the fact that the Queen’s death will add to the U.K.’s state of flux, and that this news had overshadowed an important announcement made by new British Prime Minister Liz Truss.

The death of Queen Elizabeth the Second has little personal import for me, but I’m aware it may more strongly affect my two U.K. daughters. Just three days ago Stephen received his new British passport, and the first page says “Her Britannic Majesty’s Secretary of State requests and requires in the name of Her Majesty . . . ” I said to him then that this might be one of the last passports to bear those words, and this has proved to be true.

The Queen’s first visit to Aotearoa in 1953/4 is for me inextricably linked to my father’s death. Like millions of others, I have seen her at a distance on several occasions.

Charles’ accession as King will have ramifications in this country and may re-awaken republican urgings. I was interested that the BBC referred to Camilla as Queen Consort. Queen Elizabeth had requested this, but I’m not sure it has yet had Government approval. I think the now regal couple deserve it after all the trials of their relationship.

Now we will learn to sing God Save the King and there will be a new face on stamps.

We’ve known Elizabethan years
and now it’s Charles who gets the cheers

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The first freesia has bloomed – appropriate for what was officially the first day of spring, with a warm temperature of 21 degrees. We also have ipheions and various hyacinths flowering, plus there are buds on the bluebells.

The garden is just full of zing
because bulbs know that it is spring

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Crocuses are blooming in the tub by the front door. I chose these Fiesta bulbs, which are supposed to be mixed colours, but so far the flowers are all purple – not that I’m complaining as it’s my favourite colour.

I’ve planted anemones in the centre, but there’s no sign of them yet.

In Greek mythology Crocus, a mortal youth, was a beloved companion of the god Hermes. Unfortunately Hermes accidentally killed Crocus during a discus game. As Hermes mourned, he transformed Crocus’ body into a flower. The three drops of blood, that had fallen from the head of Crocus, became the stigmata of the flower. 

Many people associate the crocus with happiness, joy and cheerfulness. The purple variety imply success, pride and dignity. It is generally recognized as a symbol of hope that the dark days of winter are at an end and that life will return and flourish.

It seems that purple is the focus
within my tub of early crocus

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This intrepid sweet pea has been flowering for over a week, undeterred by frosty mornings. When sweet peas die off I collect some of the seeds and these are sitting in the shed waiting to be planted in warmer weather. However I do let some fall onto the ground and this must be one of those. I have others that have sprouted but this is the first one to actually flower. You can also see a violet flowering up in the top right hand corner.

This is the very first sweet pea
a brave wee plant you must agree

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