Posies and Politics! Wed, 11/30/16
Resuming our meandering in Wellington on Wednesday afternoon, we hiked up a winding hill (hiked is the correct word) to the Botanic Gardens entrance. (We eat a lot, lots of times, but we walk and hike a lot, too, which is a lot of lots!) The gardens are near the top of the Wellington Cable Car, and apparently only minutes from the central business district -- 64 acres (25 hectares) of beauty, peace and tranquility. A refuge every city should have, IMO. Established in 1844, the Wellington Botanic Garden is home to some of the oldest exotic trees in New Zealand.
I love me a botanic garden!
I had to laugh when I first saw this picture ... a classic "what the heck are these nutty people looking at?" Then I remembered everyone was trying to find a Kauri (Agathis australis) tree cone (from the tree in the background). Years and years ago, the size and strength of Kauri timber made it a popular wood for construction and shipbuilding, particularly for sailing ship masts because of its parallel grain and the absence of branches for much of its height. It's also a superb timber for building the hulls and decks of boats because of its resistance to rot. You know these uses contributed to its decimation. Kauri is the largest by volume, tho not the tallest species of New Zealand's trees, and the forests are some of the most ancient in the world, what's left of them, that is. Sorry to say, today it's estimated that there is only 4% of uncut forest left in small pockets. Like the California Redwoods we all dearly love. I was happy to see at least one.
Meandering paths take us through the gardens.
Part of a fantastic mural on one of the buildings.
I didn't expect to see a succulent garden, but it seemed to be well represented!
New Zealand is ferns, no doubt about it.
I've never seen such lush and varied ferns anywhere else.
Linda is gazing at a very interesting Moreton Bay Pine tree (Araucaria cunninghamii),
also called a Hoop pine.
After trudging up, we get to ride down! What a pretty city.
Look out below! Straight down!
Can I tell you how much fun we've been having on this trip? The young lady on the left is NOT part of our group (obviously), but she was a real sport, enjoying listening to Albert (center) and all the funny Americans. Everywhere we went, local people were included into conversations or jollies. All in good fun. Laughter is the universal gift we can all give.
Jimmy and Ibby at a Wellington Braille Sculpture. "Invisible City" is about how we see, how we acquire information and how some things in life are hidden. By Dr Peter Beatson, the sculpture has a defiant muteness. It says:
The word made flesh can bleed; are we bound or free?
Embracing visual silence, alone I breed
a virtual skin of words across the void
but if the fault line ruptures, the word made flesh will bleed.
By the unseen quay I plant this graven seed.
Flayed by the wind, of permanence devoid,
tethered sign to skin, we’re both bound and freed
And then there's more foolishness!
I pushed and pushed and this dude on the pier wouldn't dive into the bay!
Across from our Copthorne hotel in Wellington on Oriental Bay is this Pōhutukawa "Christmas tree," which has sprouted great clumps of matted roots from its branches. As we walked past, Albert suggested to the group in general, to "give 'em a whack." I foolishly followed through, and about broke my knuckles! Clumps that hang down like masses of coarse matting or, more fancifully, "giants' beards," are aerial roots, also known as adventitious roots. Apparently, Wellington isn't one of Pōhutukawa's natural growing areas; hence, a tree like this seeks out more moisture to keep itself anchored and fed. Cool info, huh? Just don't try to whack that mass of roots!
Back at the hotel, we wrapped up our day with a fine lecture from Tim Marwick about New Zealand Politics and Public Life. It's kind of illuminating to see/understand how other countries operate and how well it works for them (or not). US politics are always brought into the fore by way of comparison, but we were here to learn from Tim, not the other way around.
He joined us for dinner at the hotel, and tomorrow we'll go check out Parliament, a field trip to New Zealand's Supreme Court, and then, well, we shall see! We have "lots" more time in Wellington!