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The exotic North

In the six or seven weeks since I last wrote here we’ve packed up our home of 17 years, said many fond farewells, long and short, and headed north with A, fresh from Edinburgh, in our laden wagon.

We’ve come to roost for a few weeks at the Whangarei Heads where we lap up the daily swims and eating outdoors. It’s been good to get back into our work, to see that we can knuckle down in a strange environment, and be open to its fresh ambience and opportunities.

Northland kingfisher

The garden here is a marvel — full of bright, brash and succulent plants we don’t see 900 miles south. This china Kingfisher watches the steps. Apparently, a flesh-and-blood replica turned up within a day or two of his posting, stared long and hard, and (one supposes, mournfully) went on its way.

Northland moth 1

I’m not finding it easy to capture the frilly, curly, spiky plethora of detail in the plants here so bear with me as I practise, making wan and narrow hibisci, less-than-serene water lilies and things . . .

Northland thing

… such as this, which puts me in mind of the manuscripts I regretfully turned away this morning for being, well, a little too obvious. We have hearts in the south, but we speak of them in hushed tones. It’s said that we have sex and suchlike but we paint them in sober colours, abstractly. (Fifty shades of grey — how did she manage to nab that title?)

Northland lotus

We of the south might be like the small transparent moth below, simple, monochrome—black lace and glad-wrap. However, put it on a hibiscus flower and colour glows through. Well, it might when I get the hang of colouring in the North.

Northland moth


3 Responses to “The exotic North”

  • Penelope Says:

    Thanks, Claire — so, not a moth, and not an innocent either. I’ll look sidewise at ‘her’ next time, and keep an eye out for fluffybum nymphs. . . (the ones I saw were in fact adjacent to a passionfruit vine).

  • Claire Gummer Says:

    PS Thank you for being back.

  • Claire Gummer Says:

    Your black-lace-and-gladwrap creature is, I think, a passionvine hopper and, according to Andrew Crowe, common in gardens from Nelson north. If you see ‘fluffy bums’, which also hop, they’re an earlier stage. PVHs suck sap and are thought to be complicit in the Sudden Decline of cabbage trees. Wicked PVHs!

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