Wednesday, October 3, 2007

New beginnings ...

New growth and the flowers on the Judus Tree ( Cercis siliquastrum), in the Hamilton Gardens this week. I love the way the light shines through the new heart-shaped foliage. This small tree flowers before the new leaves appear, heralding the change of season. The pea - like flowers appear on the stems, followed by flatterned pods. An exotic tree that is grown widely in New Zealand, sometimes used as street trees. The autumn colour is yellow, not that great really, but this multi-stemmed tree is popular here.

The Kowhai (Sophora tetraptera) are in full bloom everywhere at the moment - such a joyous sight ! It produces alot of nectar with the small waxeyes forever jostling for space on the twiggy branches. This NZ native tree used to grow along the river banks and for old Maori it was another signal to plant kumera or sweet potato. Here in the city, with the Waikato river running through the middle, we have begun planting these trees again, hopefully the birds will be drawn back with this food supply provided.
Zoom in and have a close look at the flowers, they are bright yellow with all the petals pointing forward, a yellow dye can be made from the petals.
All parts of the Kowhai were used by ancient Maori as medicine, infused bark was drunk for internal ailments, cuts, bruises and swellings. Boiled and crushed bark was used for sprains, broken limbs and cuts.

Isn`t this gorgeous ? There is something about new growth on a tree that really touches me deeply, I can`t explain why.. maybe its the sign of new life, the colour is always stunning, so fresh and vibrant - I am a sucker for leaves, no matter what time really, although spring and autumn would have to be my favourite times of the year. I could never live in a climate that did not have the definate 4 seasons - do I hear a Crowded House song coming on ?? This young Fig tree (Ficus carica) is growing happily in the sustainable garden here at the Hamilton Gardens and I couldn`t resist taking a photo - I mean, how beautiful is this ? My children always tease me about my photo albums and the lack of human pictures there are in them !!


Nan - said...

What an absolute treat to come here and visit you, who are in the midst of spring, while I'm looking at the leaves falling. Your photos are beautiful. I like the shape of the leaf on the fig tree. Do people still use the Kowhai? How is it pronounced? And your name too. Is it Nigh-o? I've only heard in the famous mystery writer's name. I'll be back to visit often. Wonderful blog. We kept bees a couple years but I think it is a bit too cold for them here during the winters, though we have talked about possibly trying once more.

Ngaio said...

Thank you for those kind words Nan. Kowhai is pronounced `Co-feye` the `wh` is `f` sound.Some people still use the old remedies, in fact, they are becoming popular when it is realised that the antibiotics don`t work or harm the body in some way. With the older Maori there were special ceremonies performed before taking the bark or leaves and nothing extra was taken, only enough for what was needed - like most indigenous races, they did not exploit the forest. You are correct about Ngaio, it is a Maori tree name and sometimes used as a christian name hence Ngaio Marsh the author.

I am very excited today, I brought some great bee gear from an older gentleman who after nearly 60 years, has to give up keeping bees due to failing eye sight, and amongst it all was a box of old bee books !! One of them is well over 100 years old, a beautifully written story. My friends think I am mad because I love the smell of old books, the older the better - that intrigueingly musty aroma !

Dan said...

The Judas tree is also very common in Spain.