Canterbury


Busy few weeks loyal readers! Sorry for the lack of posts. A couple of weeks ago, there were prophecies of doom and gloom in the area. We were expecting snow but no-one knew how much of the white stuff was going to hit us. TV news reports implied it could be heavy and, a local farmer I know, said that the pattern of Winter was like 1992.

Snowfall back in 1992 is legendary in the area of NZ where I live. It’s referred to as the Big Snow and over 1 million animals died. So everyone was a tad nervous and busy stocking up on essentials like water and tinned goods.

It turned out to be a non-event. The snowflakes hit the ground and melted pretty much straight away. I’ll be very happy not to see snow this year. Being Australian (from Sydney), it was a novelty for the first year or two. Now, it’s pretty much ho-hum and a nuisance when it melts.

Once we move up North, we’ll be thankful not to see snow. Although we know we’ll have to contend with more rain.

 

 

Save

Every year, around this time, I start to look for signs of Spring. In the Southern Hemisphere, that important date for us is September 1 – six days from now. We’ve had some warmer days recently and the grass is definitely growing.

Around the property, new buds are appearing. Two cherry blossoms have started to bloom and cheery, yellow daffodils are about to pop up from underneath the elm tree in the front yard. Once the daffodils appear, I feel that Spring has arrived.

The large cherry blossom in the front yard takes its time to wake up and doesn’t usually bloom until around October. The weeping willow is also showing green tips.

IMG_6677

The first stirrings of a cherry blossom in the corner of our front yard.

IMG_6684

The daffodils are starting to push up from underneath the elm tree.

We’re enjoying wonderful weather here in NZ. The days are getting quite warm. Some unsettled weather but, on the whole, coolish mornings followed by glorious bright blue sunny days. The cherry blossom in the front yard is in full bloom. I look forward to its appearance every year. It only blossoms for a few short weeks and that’s that.

Zeph and Zsa Zsa love spending time under the cherry blossom. Since the tree is right next to the stream in the Secret Garden, insects and small white butterflies buzz around. Both dogs love to chase fluttering things.

Walking back to the house the other day, after walking the dogs in the paddocks, I spotted an amazing cloud formation. Looks like a speech bubble to me.

IMG_3140

Weird cloud formation.

IMG_3147

Zeph leaps after an insect – under the magnificent cherry blossom.

It’s in the air. Spring. Well, this week we’ve had a bit of a cold spell but, mostly, Winter has been pretty mild. No huge dump of snow. Just two nights of wet flurries that painted the landscape snow white the next day but quickly melted with the appearance of warm sun.

Spring in the Southern Hemisphere starts on September 1st and that’s just two short weeks from now. Some cherry blossoms are already in bloom in Christchurch and, the other day, I found one of our cherry blossoms awakening, as well as daffodil buds appearing. This is my favourite time of year on the property. It seems we have long Winters and you get sick of the rain and overcast days. Mind you, in Canterbury we can get cold, frosty mornings followed by beautiful, bright blue sunny days – so I can’t complain too much.

It’s the anticipation that I savour. Of seeing the pink and white pastel cherry blossoms abloom; spring lambs leaping about on the neighbouring property; canary yellow daffodils bobbing their pretty heads; and the general feeling of rebirth. It’s approaching.

IMG_2449

One of the cherry blossoms stirs.

IMG_2451

A daffodil bud.

IMG_2452

The large cherry blossom in the front garden usually waits until October to unfold in all its glory.

 

 

I was in Christchurch the other day and, nearly three years after the devastating earthquake, you can still see obvious signs of damage. But a lot of buildings and rubble have been cleared away; new construction has popped up on the landscape; and you can sense renewed energy and excitement.

We were visiting the Epic Innovation centre, which aims to create an environment for innovation-based companies in the Canterbury area. It’s a wonderful open plan building with central break-out areas. Dotted around Christchurch now are some fabulous cafes too, so it’s just a matter of time before the new Christchurch reveals itself. Can’t wait!

IMG_1945

My favourite time of the year Dear Reader. It’s here! Those few weeks before the calendar turns over to September 1st and the arrival of Spring. Each year, at around this time, I glance at the weeping willow in the front yard and wait for it to awaken from its Winter sleep. The gorgeous cherry blossom next to it usually doesn’t blossom until around October. This is unusual because other cherry blossoms around the property bloom earlier, especially so since this Winter has been rather mild. It’s now getting dark at around 6.00pm instead of 5.15pm.

Very soon, it will be warm enough for me to sit under the embracing fronds of my weeping willow. I like to spread a blanket underneath it and chill with the dogs or have my morning cuppa. And when the cherry blossom is in full swing, the soft green of the willow and the pink and white of the cherry blossom signal to me that Summer has arrived. And Summer in New Zealand is fantastic. None of the blistering or sweltering heat of Australia. Just lovely warm, often hot days, with cooler nights that you can actually sleep through. And daylight to around 10.00pm or later. Bring it on New Zealand!

IMG_0553

One of the cherry blossoms on the property is starting to awaken.

IMG_0558

The beautiful weeping willow shows the first stirrings of life after Winter.

I was telling you recently about the shocking winds that hit us on the night of January 9. The beautiful weeping willow suffered a lot of damage as did a golden elm and our chestnut tree. The tree surgeon thought he could save the chestnut tree but the trunk was split right down the middle and this meant the tree would just rot. So sadly, it had to be cut down. I was very upset about this actually. It was a such a majestic tree. But we have saved some cuttings and the tree surgeon has told how we can replant it.

The weeping willow had to undergo serious tree surgery and had two enormous branches cut off. It looks a bit lopsided now but the guy reckons it will recover. A large golden elm also had to be chopped down.

We are now going to remove a number of towering eucalyptus trees from behind the stables. The previous owners went nuts with planting these water suckers and they’ve grown very large. I think they were growing them for firewood. But we’ve made the decision to get rid of them. We’ve been here nearly three years and do not feel these trees really protect us from the North-West winds. The macrocarpa around the secret garden, however, does.

So we have to get someone very experienced in chopping down large eucalyptus trees and he’ll be coming along soon with his cherry picker. Hasta la vista gum trees. The positive side of all this is that we will now have enough firewood to last us for years.

This was the beautiful chestnut tree.

IMG_7276

And this is the chestnut tree now.

IMG_7277

A large golden elm also had to be cut down.

IMG_7279

The weeping willow was saved but had to undergone a fairly drastic prune.

Next Page »