In addition to orchids and water lilies, the greenhouse in the Wellington Botanic Gardens houses a number of interesting and beautiful displays. One of the things that surprised me was the wide variety of coleus plants. Prolific and wild in Hawai’i, the fragrant island Plumeria represents the standard lei of Aloha. Their subtle sweet fragrance is difficult to describe, such that we can only say it smells beautiful and symbolic of Hawai’i The colors of plumeria are commonly abundant in yellow, although during the summer we are frequently blessed with the rare pink plumeria. The rest of the post has some rare plants and some pretty ones.
At one time growing orchids was a hobby for the wealthy, requiring a greenhouse and attentive care. Today you can buy some orchids very inexpensively in your local stores. They are often sold with the other blooming plants you can enjoy and discard. But orchids are more than that, there are many, many kinds that can appeal to a wide variety of tastes. Some can be very easy to grow, almost weeds, and some will challenge the expert. The Wellington Botanic Gradens have a beautiful collection of both orchids and aquatic plants in their enclosed greenhouse. Since I love both orchids and water lilies, I thought I would share some pictures. I included the two together because they are both delicate flowers requiring a greenhouse.
Cacti and other succulents have long held a fascination to people from all walks of life and all parts of the world. Their bizarre and fantastic shapes, their beautiful flowers and colorful leaves have long appealed to us. Of course in Las Vegas and the American Southwest, they are common but they grow all over the world. Growing them in New Zealand can be a challenge; but with careful planning, anyone can have a gorgeous cactus and succulent garden of their own. Given the tropical greenery all over New Zealand you might be surprised to find the number of people with a passion for these plants. You will find cacti and succulents on window sills, in green houses and in huge garden displays. As an aside, to show the popularity of succulents, Lisa’s daughter had a wedding without flowers, only succulents.
At the top of the Wellington Cable Car, and just minutes from the central business district, lies 25 hectares (64 acres) of beauty, peace and tranquillity. Established in 1844, the Wellington Botanic Garden is home to some of the oldest exotic trees in New Zealand. Today, the native and exotic forests are complemented by a duck pond, a begonia house and cafe, colorful floral displays, a herb garden, an Australian garden and the award-winning Lady Norwood Rose Garden.
One of our favorite areas of the Wellington Botanic Gardens is the Fern garden. I love ferns, their greenery, beauty and general loveliness rivals any flower garden and I have never seen a whole garden devoted to ferns. Ferns and lycophytes abound in New Zealand’s rainforests. In the humid interior they carpet forest floors, and climb and perch on tree trunks and branches. Tall, graceful tree ferns line the sides of streams and dominate in damp gullies. Outside the forest, ferns are also conspicuous. Many roadside banks and damp hillsides are covered in a luxurious growth of kiokio (Blechnum novae-zelandiae). Bracken (Pteridium esculentum) and ring fern (Paesia scaberula) form extensive stands in open country, and on the coast hardy ferns like shore spleenwort (Asplenium obtusatum) grow on exposed cliff faces. Ferns and lycophytes are green plants that lack flowers. They reproduce by microscopic spores, rather than by seeds as in flowering plants or conifers. What distinguishes them from the other spore-producing land plants such as mosses or liverworts is that their life cycle involves two separate, independent phases: a leafy plant phase that produces spores; and an inconspicuous, short-lived plant that bears sex organs. It is the leafy, spore-producing plant most people think of as a typical fern or lycophyte.
When we were in Wellington, we took the tram to the top of the hill, to the Wellington Botanic Garden, established in 1868. In the upper station we discovered the Fragrifert parfumeur™. Gustave Fragrifert (1880-1911) was a brilliant French perfumer who never managed to bring a single one of his exquisite perfumes to market, As a result, his name and work were about to be forgotten by history. Fortunately for us, fate had other plans. As luck would have it, in 2011, a century after Fragrifert went missing in the jungle of Borneo never to emerge again, some of his possessions were discovered in New Zealand where they made their way into the hands of budding perfumer Francesco van Eerd. Having just completed his training, van Eerd recognized the outstanding quality of Fragrifert’s formulations and, counting his lucky stars, realized that he found himself in the unique position of being able to rescue Gustave’s magnificent olfactory oeuvre from oblivion and Fragrifert parfumeur™ was created to make his gorgeous fragrances available to the world for the first time. Francesco has created those few of Gustave’s olfactory masterpieces that he has so far been able to reconstruct according to his meticulous albeit veiled instructions.