Every photographer loves the golden hour, that special time between dusk and dark. Sunsets can be spectacular, unusual and surreal. Since I just got back from Page Arizona to photograph the natural beauty of the area, including of course Horseshoe Bend at sunset, I have decided to collect a few of my favorite sunsets from around the world. Not all sunsets depend on color to make them spectacular, although Horseshoe Bend might be the exception. Often it is the subtle interplay of light and dark, the delicate colors rather than flashy vibrance and it is always about that soft light that fills our senses as the embers of the day play out.
My first post on Eden Garden showed closeup photographs and identification of some of the exotic flowering plants. It would be a disservice to neglect the beauty and serenity of the garden as a whole or to quote an old proverb, the trees without the forest. Since I am from Las Vegas, where a tree and a few succulets form a garden, the green landscape here is almost overwhelming. Throughout the gardens many native New Zealand trees can be found including giant Nikau palms, Kauri, Rimu, Totara and ferns. The topography of this garden with little and large vistas adds greatly to the appeal of the gardens. There are also an abundance of native birds, including Tuis, Wood Pigeons, Fantails and Kingfishers, whose chirping only adds to the atmosphere.
We decided to visit Eden Garden which is a garden on Mount Eden in Auckland, set in 2 hectares (5 acres) of former quarry land, sort of like the Butchart Gardens in Victoria but on a smaller scale. It was established in 1964 and is open to the public for an admission fee. Eden Garden was donated to the people of New Zealand in 1965 and is managed by The Eden Garden Society. The garden’s many collections of plants include what is reputed to be the largest collection of camellias in New Zealand, vireyas (tropical rhododendrons) some of which are always in bloom, Japanese maples, magnolias, hibiscus, bromeliads, native trees, interesting rock formations, waterfalls, and a spectacular perennial garden. At the entrance they had the spectacular red Bougainvillea pictured above.
The Wynyard Quarter (historically also known as the Western Reclamation, Wynyard Point, Wynyard Wharf or Tank Farm) is a reclaimed piece of land on the Waitemata Harbour at the western edge of the Auckland waterfront in New Zealand. A good part of the area is still covered by petrol and liquid chemical storage facilities of Ports of Auckland Ltd (POAL) and various other companies, that gave the area its now slowly disappearing “Tank Farm” moniker. The area fronting the harbor is called the North Wharf Promenade. With 10 eateries and bars serving up an eclectic mix of international cuisine, craft beers, tapas and all day sun, North Wharf is a great place to kick back and soak in the authentic working wharf setting. With stunning views across the magnificent Waitemata Harbor and back to the lamp lit city beyond, North Wharf is a short walk west over the Wynyard Crossing bridge from the Viaduct Harbor.
When Bhushan and Jasmine Arolkar wanted to start a restaurant that represented the modern dining culture of India, they did not have to look far from their hometown, Bombay (Mumbai, India). Bombay is the food capital of India, offering a wide variety of cuisine from all parts of India from tasty street food, to gourmet Pacific-Rim styles. New-age Indian cuisine puts the emphasis on the experience of the restaurant. Apart from the food, an excellent wine list, and staff dedicated to refining you dining experience, the final element that makes Urban Turban special is the location, and the contemporary design of the restaurant itself. The North Wharf is at the Harbor’s edge with stunning views of the Waitemata Harbor, and Urban Turban’s modern spacious design, is perfectly modelled to take advantage of the harbor side location.
Right next to the Auckland Art Gallery is the expansive Albert Park. Filled with art, fountains and flowers, Albert Park is one of Auckland’s most important parks with its central location in the heart of the city, its long history and distinctive character. Albert Park in central Auckland was a military barracks during the conflict in Northland from 1845 to 1846. Troops were stationed there until 1871, when most of the buildings and walls were demolished. The park itself was constructed 10 years later. The sculpture shown above is by Neil Dawson to commemorate the Auckland Art Gallery centenary in 1988. The semicircular structure frames the tres presenting changing views of of the park as it is viewed from different angles.
They had a side of Albert park filled with a collection of beautiful specimen flowers and I decided to present them along with the names. It is quite a cosmopolitan collection, filled with little flower puzzles. I write these posts on the specifics of flowers, including names and a little history both for myself and for you, the reader. Flowers and plants are beautiful in their own right but knowing what kind of plant you are seeing allows you to find parallels and insights into your own gardening and gardens in general. Some of these individual flowers have attracted hundreds of thousands of interested people to join societies, discuss in garden clubs and even to host shows devoted to a particular flower. Examples include Roses, Canna Lillies, Crocosmia, Dahlias, Succulents and Chrysanthemums to name just a few. These garden groups are often not easy to find but show a light on the culture of people living in a particular locale. For instance, New Zealanders or Kiwis are crazy interested in succulents. I hope you too will find these garden posts useful and will enhance your enjoyment the next time you visit a garden or see an unusual plant.
We decided to visit the Auckland Art Gallery and managed to see a retrospective of the paintings of Robert Ellis. Robert Ellis is one of New Zealand’s pre-eminent artists. He has held more than 60 solo exhibitions and innumerable group exhibitions in New Zealand and abroad. Over the past decades Robert Ellis’s paintings have addressed issues of New Zealand identity in which he draws together threads of European and Pacific cultures. These works make observations about the two cultural threads from a personal as well as social perspective. They combine European and Pacific images. Those deriving from the West include the horse, chair and chalice and medieval geometric designs. The Pacific imagery features the Ratana symbol and the koru while there are a number of others that cross boundaries such as the hand, the fish and the stars.” Because of his long career, we can identify three periods of his work, beginning with roads as boundaries, progressing to a deep awareness of the Māori culture and finally to a fusion of European and Polynesian symbols as seen in the work above.
When we traveled to Sydney from Las Vegas, we took an overnight stopover in a small hotel near the airport, the Jetpark Hotel. While the hotel was clean and perfectly suitable for an overnight stay, the garden and landscaping outside was something special. Although I asked to meet the gardener, we never managed to connect. Even so, the plants were neatly labeled and the variety was extensive and representative of New Zealand. It was clear that someone took a great deal of pride in this landscaping. Even though this was not a “botanic garden”, I thought I would share the pictures I took.
We decided to visit the Jade Dragon Yum Cha restaurant on the third floor of the Sky City complex for lunch. Yum cha in Cantonese Chinese literally means “drink tea”, while ban ming is a more poetic term meaning “tasting of tea”. In the US and UK, the phrase dim sum is often used in place of yum cha; in Cantonese, dim sum refers to the wide range of small dishes, whereas yum cha, or “drinking tea”, refers to the entire meal. Jade Dragon is in a convenient location, serves good food with nice decor.