A walk in the park …

Yesterday was a low-cloud drizzly day around here but that didn’t stop us enjoying a walk round Te Puna Quarry Park. Great day for photos.

Raindrops pick out a cobweb strung between these bright aloe flowers.

We always walk the same way round – up the main track to the mosaic woman and her husband, turning left at the fork so we come to the cactus and succulent garden first. Lots of aloes out just now and even spotted some small flowers on a “hairy” cactus of the Oreocereus type, native to the high Andes. This website makes mention of the hair offering protection from strong UV rays, while others mention protection from another light and cold.

Then it’s up through the bromeliad area heading towards the butterfly garden. The Vege Grower and the Teenager wondered what was wrong when I started shrieking “it’s a pineapple, it’s a pineapple”. Guess what? It was a pineapple!

A pineapple!

We’ve become fans of the Hairy Bikers who can be seen in the Best of British series on Thursdays on Choice TV (free to air). They recently talked about pineapples – which were  such a status symbol in 18th century England that they could be hired (at great expense) as a centrepiece for dinner parties. (Hairy Bikers, hairy cactus … is there a theme developing here?)

Pineapple plants are members of the bromeliad family and native to the tropical Americas. Years ago I saw a commercial plantation of Ananas comosus in Hawaii – so that’s what goes in the tins! – but only a few of the Ananas family have edible fruit, most are ornamental. This website shows how to grow a plant from the top of a fruit and here’s a link to the website of the Dole Plantation in Hawaii.

The Quarry Park has been renowned for its orchids since it first established. Over the past year or so though, those plantings have been somewhat diminished as pine trees have been removed, taking the orchids with them. However, the trees were competing for nutrients and water in the soil and their needles making conditions a bit too acidic for the orchids so although many plants have gone, growing conditions should now be better for the plants going in.

The first cymbidiums (the link is to a New Zealand website on cymbidium care) are out and there are also zygopetalums and slipper orchids (paphiodelium) in flower – all planted outside in a place that doesn’t have a lot of topsoil! The plants aren’t mollycoddled and they respond well. There will be more cymbidiums and the Australian dendrobiums to come too.

That’s less than halfway round so I might save the other photos I have for another instalment …

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