Flowering now

Not in my garden, alas, but Te Puna Quarry Park yesterday. I hope you like the photo gallery (which seemed to sort itself into colours).

The park’s Cymbidium orchids are flowering, always a gorgeous sight. Photo: Sandra Simpson

A monarch butterfly basking on a still-to-open flower on a tree grevillea. The park was full of butterflies enjoying the sun and the opening flowers. Photo: Sandra Simpson

And now for the pinks …

The only redeeming features of the seedy and weedy Prunus campanulata (Taiwanese cherry) – many would say – are its colour and being a food source for birds, like this one-eyed tui. Photo: Sandra Simpson

The park’s magnolia garden is starting to come into its own – and the trees are still young enough so the flowers are at eye level. Photo: Sandra Simpson

A stellata-type magnolia. Photo: Sandra Simpson

The pretty flowers of a Dombeya tree, native to Africa. Photo: Sandra Simpson

Te Puna Quarry Park is off State Highway 2, about 15 minutes north of central Tauranga. It’s open seven days from early to dusk and admission is free, although donations for the volunteer project are always welcome (donation bin is by the main entry gate) – as are helping hands. If you’d like to meet new people and are reasonably active (age no barrier), volunteers work on Tuesdays from 9am (take morning tea) on various tasks, but weeders are always welcome, and quit at noon. To find out more  phone Ian Cross, 07 578 8735, or email society secretary Dulcie Artus.

Spring is springing

Despite a cold snap arriving today, we’ve had a very mild winter and Nature is beginning to throw off her blankets of hibernation. Here are some photos that I hope will get your sap rising and excited about the garden again.

A tui gets serious about feeding in a Prunus campanulata. Photo: Sandra Simpson

They may be weedy in our warm climate, but the early flowering Prunus campanulata make spirits soar with their bright colour and branches full of nectar-feeding birds. One of the main roads in Tauranga has a stretch of P. campanulata as street trees but with their habit of spreading through the landscape, as they come to the end of their lives, they are being replaced with other types of tree. 

I understand that P. campanulata Pink Cloud, bred by the late Felix Jury, is a sterile form (but not as vivid), while P. campanulata Felix Jury and Mimosa are also sterile with the former a brighter colour. Read an informative article about P. campanulata in New Zealand here.

Speaking of Felix Jury and red flowers, here’s a picture of his hybrid Magnolia Vulcan, a real stunner if you have room for it.

Magnolia Vulcan. Photo: Sandra Simpson

Magnolia doltsopa, also known as Michelia doltsopa or sweet michelia, has its leaves on when it flowers but you’d hardly know, so covered in sweet-scented white flowers is it. We have a large tree on a verge near our home and I always wonder how safe the traffic is as it’s so eye-catching.

Perhaps in homage, the council is planting a nearby street with M doltsopa.

Magnolia doltsopa. Photo: Sandra Simpson

M. doltsopa Silver Cloud came out of Duncan and Davies in the 1950s or 60s. The Magnolia Grove website has information about New Zealand-made magnolia hybrids. Magnolia Grove has released the Genie (2011) and Cameo (2013) hybrids, with Genie surviving -24C in Hungary!