Archive for the ‘Tree Love’ Category

Ti Kouka

This isn’t the first cabbage tree I’ve shown on Thursday Tree Love day, but they are ubiquitous in New Zealand, so this won’t be the last! The other day my husband and I were taking a walk around the harbour. I had finally remembered to take my camera, so was enjoying the atmospheric changes as the fog drifted in and out, as it had all week.

Looking away from the shore, the waves and the rocks, and up into the valleys, I caught this group of three cabbage trees, the most distant disappearing into the mist. It’s such a typical New Zealand view, I knew I had to share it.

P1140023 cabbage tree

As the cabbage tree or Ti Kouka is probably foreign to you, I thought I’d share some interesting facts from its Department of Conservation page:

  • The trunk of the cabbage tree is so fire-resistant that early European settlers used it to make chimneys for their huts. Conveniently, too, the leaves made fine kindling. They also brewed beer from the root.
  • Cabbage trees are one of the most widely cultivated New Zealand natives and are very popular in Europe, Britain and the US. In the UK they are known as Torquay palm.
  • Cabbage trees are good colonising species, growing happily on bare ground or exposed places.
  • Their strong root system helps stop soil erosion on steep slopes and because they tolerate wet soil, they are a useful species for planting along stream banks.
  • Māori used cabbage trees as a food, fibre and medicine. The root, stem and top are all edible, a good source of starch and sugar. The fibre is separated by long cooking or by breaking up before cooking.
  • The leaves were woven into baskets, sandals, rope, rain capes and other items and were also made into tea to cure diarrhoea and dysentery.
  • Cabbage trees were also planted to mark trails, boundaries, urupā (cemeteries) and births, since they are generally long-lived.

Another in the Thursday Tree Love series – find all the other bloggers doing it here.

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The entrance to our farmhouse was always much grander than the farmhouse or in fact the farm itself. The house was situated on the corner of the road, but set back probably about 100 metres, which gave us added privacy. Road noise wasn’t a problem, as the only people who drove up this road were the few people who lived on it (a total of six houses) and the mailman. A driveway wound its way in front of the house, and around to the yard. (I’m using yard in the NZ context, which means a dirt (or mud, depending on the season, or maybe concrete) yard around work buildings.) From the yard, with the dog kennels, farm buildings, haystack, and carports for the cars and tractors, and the cowshed (milking shed/dairy) at the end, there was a large macrocarpa hedge separating the work area from our private garden and little house.

Lining the driveway off the road were large walnut trees.  They’ve been there forever – I realise now I don’t know when they might have been planted, but they’ve been there at least 60 years and probably 80 or more. At times they’d get so huge, joining together at the highest, leafiest points, my father would decide to “top” them, cutting them back sometimes by a third, sometimes more.  They provided luscious shade and privacy in the summer, and in the winter, after they’d lost their leaves, they were a stark but still constant presence.

The walnuts would fall from the trees, and we would harvest them in autumn – around April – and spend winter evenings shelling the walnuts for sale. We only did this in my teenage years – before that they were largely left, I think – and there was never much (any?) money to be made from them. My father was really the only one who liked eating them – though I quite like them now. It was always damp and cold picking up the walnuts that had fallen to the ground, and was not a task I particularly enjoyed. I do love the trees though, and I’m always happy to see that subsequent owners of the farm have kept them. I checked they were still there when we passed by in 2018 in pouring rain, though this photo is from two years earlier. Long may they last.

IMG_20161116_153107 Hook farm walnuts

Another in the Thursday Tree Love series – find all the other bloggers doing it here.

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I love this tree in most seasons. It sits on the corner of the street where my husband grew up and my father-in-law still lives, at the edge of a park and playground area. I have been driving past it regularly for more than 30 years, but thanks to Thursday Tree blogs, I actually notice it these days.

It is a lush green in summer, inviting you to sit underneath its shade with a friend or a book or an ice-cream on the way back from the shops. But it is truly spectacular in autumn. Last Friday was my first visit to this suburb since our lockdown began in March, when it was still summer, and so I was amazed at the change in colours. I took this photo on our way home, but wish I had stopped on the way there, as the light at the time on the trees accentuated the sculptural nature of the branches, and made the leaves glow. Even though the light had dimmed somewhat, it’s still lovely.


Another in the Thursday Tree Love series – find all the other bloggers doing it here.

Read Full Post »

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