Posts Tagged ‘kowhai flowers’

A friend in the US this morning posted a photo of what she called her indicator tree. The tree was completely golden, the leaves turned yellow, indicating that autumn had begun. I laughed, because my indicator tree is also golden, but for me it heralds the arrival of spring. It’s not one tree. But in late August and September, I look out the window and see splashes of yellow all over the valley, and I pass various trees of yellow on my walks, as we drive. Everywhere our indicator trees tell us that winter is ending (not over) and longer, warmer days are coming. I’ve posted about them before, but today is Thursday Tree Love day, and I haven’t done one of these posts for months, so I wanted to talk about this tree.

The kōwhai tree is a native, New Zealand tree. When I grew up, we pronounced it as “ko-why” though I always knew that was not right. These days, with a Te Reo (Maori language) resurgence, we attempt to pronounce it correctly, lengthening the “o” sound (more like “aw”) and pronouncing the “wh” as a soft, wispy, “f” sound. You can hear it here.

Tui and some other native birds feast on the nectar from the flowers. It’s one of the reasons I would love to have a kōwhai tree in my garden – though we have plenty of tui around here anyway.

Around this time last year, my mother-in-law fell ill and died. The kōwhai trees were all out when we were visiting her house, and travelling to the hospital. A month or so ago, on what would have been her birthday, we received a plant from the funeral director as a gift. It is a kōwhai tree, though a dwarf variety. We have it in a pot now, so it’s a lovely remembrance, and I will finally have a kōwhai tree in my garden.


Another Thursday Tree Love post.

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Today is my idea of a pretty perfect day. It is calm, with only a light breeze at times. The sky is clear, with just the occasional cloud making an appearance, breaking up the monotony of a plain blue sky. It is still cool, but not cold. I like that. It was chilly enough this morning to appreciate a woolly coat, but there is starting to be some real warmth in the sun. The harbour was sparkling and beautiful, even if the sight of a middle-aged man emerging from the water in speedos was a bit shocking.

The dullness of winter is also over, as blossoms start to appear, camellias flower everywhere including our garden, and on my walks around my suburb, I see the blooms of numerous flowers I can’t name. As I look out my windows, I see splashes of yellow all over the valley, and these gorgeous yellow kowhai flowers intoxicate the tui, who are chirping, clicking and clacking wildly, happy that spring is here.


Kōwhai flowers in my supermarket carpark



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  1. It’s windy, really windy, spring equinox windy, windy even for Wellington.
  2. Out of the wind, there is real heat in the sun, even when the temperatures are still cold outside.
  3. Everywhere I look, I see splashes of yellow from beautiful kowhai trees.
  4. There is asparagus in my fridge – and on the menu of my favourite brunch place – and basil in a pot on my kitchen benchtop.
  5. It’s birthday season, and my little sister turned … well, I’m not going to tell you, because I think both of us are still coming to terms with the number.
  6. Cafes leave their doors open, thinking summer is here, on days when the sun is shining but it is still only 13 degrees outside, and shivering teenage girls are dressed in shorts or spaghetti strap T-shirts, when IT IS STILL ONLY 13 DEGREES OUTSIDE!
  7. Thursday night was my first pasta and chardonnay night in six months – though I was a rebel, and had pasta and pinot gris, just for a change!
  8. Cruise ships have returned – the first one over a week ago when it was cold, cloudy, windy, and quite miserable, and another today, when the harbour city is sunny, warmer, and much more welcoming.

 kowhai spring

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