On verdancy and hideyholes:
(Photo taken by my friend Vanessa Ng, who was on loan from Auckland for a weekend)
Gee, the Waikato is an awfully pretty place. As sad as I was to say goodbye to the sea when I moved here, the fantastic variety and ubiquitousness of native and introduced flora and fauna almost fills the hole in my heart the sea has left (almost). Everyday I see delicious bundles of honeysuckle creepers, bizarre towering flamingo trees (otherwise and more boringly known as Chinese Cedar), rhododendrons that kick my mum’s rhododendron bushes’ butts, so many flowering cherry blossom trees, an entire row of a type of tree that, thanks to my Granddad years ago, I only know as “Holy shit, it’s those monkeybomb trees from when I was a kid!” and ohmygoodness so much else.
The peat and allophane rich soils pervading the Waikato region are the drivers behind the easily achieved lushness of the area, by sheer dint of greedily clinging to water and nutrients via chemistry magic and being the perfect pedality (crumbliness) for plant roots via physics magic. Which is lucky, because it means that even within Hamilton city there is a ton of pretty plants everywhere. It’s also bad, however, as there is a lot of peat based soils which are rapidly subsiding under overzealous drainage and tilling. But that’s a whole other cylinder of annelids.
The obvious place to point out in Hamilton in terms of amazing flora would be the Hamilton Gardens. If you are ever in Hamilton (or just cruising past), I’d recommend the visit. However, there are plenty of other areas that are just as inspiring for anyone even remotely interested in the natural world. The photo above was taken at the Bridal Veil Falls, near Raglan. It is every bit as ridiculously pretty as the photo makes it seem and more. There is a walk near Hamilton city itself that takes you through some bush that houses a large colony of short-tail bats, one of only two species of mammals native to New Zealand. There is a nice tree plantation a wee bit away from the city that is filled with roosters (consider this fair warning). For all you misers, all of these places are completely free. You have no excuse but your own disinterest.
However, my favorite place for plant life in Waikato, and the reason why I’ve been writing this whole mess in the first place, resides on the Waikato University campus itself. Nestled uncomplainingly in a deserted corner of the campus is an unassuming little fernery, not a minute away from the science department. If I want to read in peace between classes, this is where I disappear. Nobody ever goes there. It is dark and peaceful, and has a bench next to a gurgling creek.
This isn’t the reason it is my preferred plant place. It is presently my preferred plant place purely due to its patron plant, the Ptisana Salicina.
I like it because it has King’s Fern in it, King’s Fern being my current favorite plant. This little guy:
Not because it’s pretty. No because it’s useful. Oh no. I like it because I am a terrible person who has a poor taste in, and grasp of, irony. I find King’s Fern such an entertaining plant purely because it is severely endangered, which is why it is hidden in our fernery. That, and the fact that the major cause of King’s Fern rarity is not wild pigs, goats and sheep (who do contribute) but that most viscious of plant grazers, the wild botanist. King’s Fern is endangered due to a slow reproduction rate, coupled with being constantly taken from its environment by botanists who prize it for its rarity. Rarity they’ve created. I find this amusing. God knows why.
Yeah. That’s what this post was about. Not anything even relating to vegetation. Rather, a display of my poor, poor sense of humor. Feel free to track me down and slap me. I deserve it for wasting your time.
(But seriously, visit some of the places above. Bring your children if you have them. Make or steal some children to bring if you don’t. It’ll be totally worth it)