Sunday, October 2, 2011

Spring has Sprung !

Spring has finally arrived here in Aotearoa with the unpredictable weather, brilliant blue-sky days and blossom everywhere. The spring equinox winds tend to blow the blossom in a flutter of white, covering the lawn. Daisys smother the grass amid bright dandelions - banquet for beezzz 
Tulips in the Hamilton Gardens look amazing, all planted out in their colours and blooming in time for the festival. The bulbs are lifted by the gardeners each year after flowering, stored then planted again next year - a huge job as there are thousands of bulbs !
Native tree, Rewarewa, displays its beautiful, rust-red flowers bursting open into yellow tubes that the bees and birds seek out.  
Kowhai flowers shine butter yellow, attracting nectar drinking birds - I have a flock of wax-eyes that visit in the afternoons flitting around after the bugs. This time of the year in the southern hemisphere there is a certain feel in the air, a light brightness, noisy blackbirds and raucous tui . . . New, bright green delicate leaves on the deciduous trees - the smell of fresh rain in the air . .  

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Piwakawaka darting . . .

My beautiful Piwakawaka, NZ Fantail, a very sweet little native bird that inhabits most of NZ - a tiny wee bird that flits around catching bugs in the air, follows me around the garden flying very close,  catching the bugs I disturb.
This amazing work is by a woman called Kate Hill, a very clever artist from Hamilton. I love the stitching of the birds and leaves she has done .

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Pieces of my Day. . .

A wee Wax-Eye enjoying the nectar in the Red Hot Pokers or Knifofia sp in the Gardens this morning, , these south African flowers always make me smile on dreary winter days.
I went for a wander through the cemetery above the Gardens today, the detail on this old gravestone caught my eye  - an old curtain with tassel. I feel very peaceful walking around reading the lichen covered stone, trying to decipher the words - my only company being a solitary blackbird . .
  A beautiful card my youngest daughter, Ellena, sent me for Mothers Day in May - my girls always pick lovely cards for me, they know what I like and poke around in book shops looking for that special one that Mum will like ! She found this in the Victoria University bookshop in Wellington. .
 This is the funky birthday card my eldest daughter, Meg, made for me this birthday - her quirky paintings are popular with many people - I love her work, she is so clever . .

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Moon Balloons !

Full moon over Aotearoa (NZ) this week, an amazing yellow globe that shone all night, lightening up my bathroom in the early hours ! My lovely cousin in Christchurch reminded me that the 2 major earhquakes they had, in Sept and Feb, happened at full moon times - I can understand how scary full moons are to those traumatized . .
On a misty morning during the week, I walked out my door and was greeted by this beautiful sight ! The hot air balloons are usually up and well away by this time of the morning, but it was a foggy start, so typical of Hamilton winters, so it was about 11.00am. I do have a dream of going up in one of these floating baskets, it is quite expensive, but will do before I get to old !

 They got so close we could wave !! We have a balloon festival here each April with many coming from overseas - if the weather is fine it is a fantastic time - balloons landing in school grounds and parks, even the odd street !

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Aotearoa (NZ) Autumn and Christchurch . . .

The colour of autumn is abundant here in Aotearoa - dried, brilliantly coloured leaves are falling to the ground, making a carpet of stunning reds,purple, orange and gold.
Red maple or Acer rubra is one of the first maples here to loose leaves - all shades of red, the first to bud in the spring. Like many exotic trees from the northern hemisphere, maples thrive in our temperate climate, adding their bright colours to our many hues of green that our native trees display.
The pics below I took in Christchurch last weekend - it was quite painful to see this beaitiful city so broken . . . Having experienced 2 large earthquakes and many large aftershocks since last Sept, this city known as the `garden city` is like a 3rd world country war zone in places.
Signs like this abound all through the badly damaged areas, including the CBD - it is truly heart-breaking to see so many beautiful old buildings fallen, rubble everywhere - just the sounds of demolition and birds. I can`t see the city rebuilding in this place - CHCH was originaly build on marsh land, this very evident after the shocks, with the dreaded liquifaction, a nasty smelling grey, gritty substance bubbling up from underground, spreading through the street and homes.
One example of an old building with the walls being braced, saw many with all the bricks lying in piles - it took many weeks to get power and water back on to thousands of people - very hard for us to comprehend.
A row of shops and the Catholic cathedral, just a small portion of buildings to be completely demolished  - very sad to witness. .

The people of CHCH seem resiliant, but I know many are very anxious with all the after shocks still happening - I felt a decent 4. something shock while in Lyttelton - rocked the building I was in.There is such a huge amount of work still to do, it may take years - also costly ! I am sure this lovely city will rise up out of the bricks with a totally different look . .

Wednesday, April 27, 2011


My honey bees Apis mellifera, are precious in more ways than one. . . Some people understand that without our food plants being pollinated, except for the likes of rice and some cereals, we humans will be existing on a very bland diet indeed, others don`t understand at all !  What most don`t understand, is the tiny honey bee, which was imported to our shores in the 1830`s, is the main contributor to this vital job, one which it is finding harder and harder to accomplish.  But hey, there have always been enough bees haven`t there ? Once there were, but now there is a huge decline in their numbers due to many issues,  I do believe it has been mainly brought on by mans selfishness, his idea that the bee is here for our use and of course, don`t forget, the mighty dollar. Varroa arrived on our shores around 2000, decimating many hives and putting beekeepers out of business. Many hobbyist beekeepers just gave up, not wanting to bother treating their bees twice a year, but our numbers are on the rise again, thanks to many younger and not so young bee enthusiasts learning about bees, planting gardens and orchards, realising they need bees for pollination !
Honey bees have long been part of human life, providing much needed sweetness, light from candle wax, and most importantly, the pollination of over 40% of what we eat. Up until Rev Langstroth discovered removable frames, humans lived with bees in a fair relationship, each providing the other with what they needed ie habitat, flowering plants, honey and wax.
With products from the hive including honey, pollen, wax and propolis earning beekeepers a tidy sum, things changed rapidly, leaving the bees stranded in a place of disease and illness. .  their numbers declining, their health declining, with their ability to fight.. slowly declining ..
We will loose our bees unless attitudes change, food as we know it will change considerably, life as we know it will change beyond our comprehension – sounds abit over the top? I don`t think so, and neither do many other worried bee keepers. I feel very strongly that until many of the established ways of beekeeping, here in NZ and world-wide, change from how much money can be made from keeping bees, to how can we care wisely, working with these insects in a way that will benefit both parties, with the bees being the major beneficiary of our kindness and knowledge we now have regarding the use of pesticides and other chemical nasties.
Honey bees evolved with Angiosperms, flowering plants, millions of years ago – each supplying the other with the exact life sustaining substance it needs. During this time, bees along with other pollinating insects and birds dealt with many life threatening changes, over time adjusting and continuing to pollinate, plants providing the proteins and sugars needed to keep the insects healthy, the bees transferring pollen from flower to flower, thus continuing the cycle of life . .
So, my plea to all who care for our planet and its inhabitants, next time you see honey bees, bumble bees, other insects in your garden or wild places, think of what you can do to make their short lives free of starvation (plant bee food), free of contamination ( don`t use chemicals of any kind), free of homelessness ( keep a hive, maybe a TopBar hive, in your garden)  - it does not take much effort at all . . trust me
 Marcia Meehan     ( an article I wrote recently for a magazine )           

Monday, April 25, 2011

ANZAC in Aotearoa . . .

On the 25th April 1915, thousands of NZ and Australian solders along with many, many other allied solders were thrust ashore onto the Turkish beach, Gallipoli, under constant gun fire from Turkish army above them.  It was total bloodshed and miserably managed, so much unnecessary death and injury.
96 yrs on, this day is always remembered by New Zealanders and Australians with dawn services across the countries, solemn church services, young and old marching together . . .to remember them.
For many years, Ellena and I have put the red Flanders poppy the RSA men sell, on the cenotaph in Hamilton. Now it is just myself and my thoughts . . . My paternal Grandfather, Mick Meehan, went away to WW1 , a glorious adventure, he was only 20, a young farming boy from Wanganui. He came home shattered, not so much in body but needed time to sort his emotions out at Hamner Springs, which was then used as a rehabilitation center for war veterans. He was a gentle, loving man who raised a family and worked hard.
The cenotaph by the river here in Hamilton, this was yesterday before the rain and the wreaths, put there today. The solders, men and women from each war NZ has taken part in, march slowly across the Victoria bridge at dawn, gathering in silence beside the cenotaph. What is quite amazing, is the number of young people there - wonderful to see them listening and learning about what their Grand and G Grand parents did for their country.
A special day, a day for reflection - today seemed ideal . . . wet and gloomy.