Sunday, January 14, 2018

A brief glimpse of Queenstown..New Zealand

Queenstown, New Zealand, is perhaps the premier destination in what is definitely a much loved country when it comes to tourists of all persuasions...which means it's a busy place. Even here at the top of the gondola, you can see dozens of people lunging with luges, helicopters landing after doing adventure rides. There are mountain bikers galore, bungy jumpers (although the one I photographed below was jumping a dozen or so miles away at the very Mecca of the sport where it originated) and of course a few mild-mannered flower loving hikers like myself and a handful of companions from the trip we're on at the moment...

 I did not follow in Wonder Woman's bootstraps--this isn't a pastime for mild mannered flower lovers!

 There is an extensive garden on the peninsula shown in the first picture--filled with some pretty remarkable trees. And a lovely rose garden...

 Much of the mountain soaring above the city is muffled in dense forest of douglas fir--many surely over 100 feet tall. There are obvious efforts to reduce and perhaps eventually eliminate this noble as these very straight and tall trees may be, they have obliterated the native biodiversity wherever they grow--and the undergrowth is the horticultural equivalent of a bombed city, or perhaps just a slum of the most depressing kind. Not that I have an opinion about it!

Danger of fire is likely a factor in this: they've just experienced almost 3 months of virtually rainless weather...

Here you can see lush dark green Douglas fir on the left and in the distance. The extensive gray patch on the right was either burned or perhaps sprayed to kill the trees to keep them from spreading further in the alpine. The foreground and right show areas that had been cleared but which are full of young douglas fir seedlings. As we hiked further there were large areas of pristine "bush" with the occasional orange douglas fir (that had been sprayed to kill it)...very encouraging.

 I was thrilled to find a Dracophyllum in bloom: these abundant and widespread shrubs are found throughout New Zealand and neighboring islands--sometimes forming small trees that much resemble Dracaena, which may be the origin of the Latin name. They were once classed as members of the Epacrid family, but are now considered Ericaceae...

And the flower can be construed as somewhat resembling some of the heaths in form...Being deliciously spiky, I'm enchanted with these...and find them delightful as well since almost precisely 100 years ago, the redoubtable Reginald Farrer conflated this genus with the Labiate genus Dracocephalum, the most humorous and egregious Homeric nod in the monumental English Rock Garden. You know you have to be a pretty recondite humorist to get a kick out of that!

Polystichum vestitum
 A stunning Polystichum that could almost pass for P. braunii if one were in eastern North America, or P. andersonii if one were in the West or P. setiferum in Eurasia. I love them all!

Blechnum penna-marina
 I believe this is the New Zealand take on this widespread miniature fern--here dangling on the edge of a trail cut. I saw this looking far more like its South American sibling along the Godley River in 2016...but it is delightful in any manifestation. Widely grown in Europe and the Pacific Northwest, it's not fond of Denver's continental conditions.

Gaultheria depressa var. novae-zelandiae
 A highlight of the walk for me was finding this wonderful wintergreen: I couldn't resist sampling a berry, which seemed to have a hint of the wintergreen taste I love in our native procumbens...or maybe I was imagining it. I'm very suggestible.

Raoulia cf glabra
There were wonderful mats of raoulia along the track, nany coming into bloom. I have grown one that looks like this under this name--I'm assuming it's the same....

This genus is one of the gems of the New Zealand flora--and one of the great treasures of rock gardens. I saw many in bloom in November, and heartened to see some still blooming in January.

Lycopodium fastigiatum
There were masses of this fantastic diminutive club moss fruiting along the trail...what it takes to please me is often pretty small!

Lophozonia menziesii

As we were sitting among the Southern beeches relaxing, a lovely young Kiwi mountain guide stopped to chat and inform us that these were Silver beeches (Lophozonia menziesii). We took her at her word: this was near the limit of trees perhaps half way up the hike to Ben Lomond--a trek I would like to complete one day...not too hard if you start in the morning and take your time I reckon!

I've seen Nothofagus thriving in Newfoundland in the garden of Bodil Larsen and in Hamburg Botanic Garden. Is it too much to dream that we might grow these one day in Denver?

Wahlenbergia albomarginata
 On our way down I had to get a picture of the campanulad that was here and there among the turf.

Geranium sessiliflorum
 The dusky little New Zealand geranium didn't look quite the same as I'd seen before further I had to take a picture!

Hieracium aurantiacum
We found only a single blossom on this orange hawkweed--considered a noxious pest in New Zealand (and beguiling many a gardener to include it in their gardens--to their own disgust later). I'm always tempted--the burnt orange color is very much in my personal pallette!

Janet and Doug Davis
Five of us rode the gondola up the mountain, and here two of our party--the delightful Davises--are seen here launching on the descent. It's perhaps the greatest testament that one can give Facebook that it has provided a means by which like minded flower lovers from all over the world can get to know one another. I don't know if I would have met Janet and Doug without Facebook--and here we are exploring New Zealand together! Janet's stunning eye for angles and views is a delight to watch in action. She shall perhaps blog eventually about New Zealand: when she does she shall put my pictures to shame. In the meantime, do check on her blog, The Paintbox Garden: a feast for the eyes!

1 comment:

  1. Dear Panayoti - Lovely words indeed. But you have captured today’s adventure in such a timely manner, while I will need weeks to organize my photos (and thoughts). And thanks for all the identifications that I missed because I was lollygsgging behind you. No more nothofagus?? Drats!


Featured Post

A garden near lake Tekapo

The crevice garden of Michael Midgley Just a few years old, this crevice garden was designed and built by Michael Midgley, a delightful ...

Blog Archive