The Flowery & The Stark

tulips & two daffodils

I like rain. As long as it behaves itself. Right now we are in the middle of Spring, which being a tricky, capricious season, requires a certain level of tolerance. When there is a lack of sunshine, the tulips choose to close shop. Luckily they are as lovely when shut tight as they are when in a more revelatory mood.

tulip in the rain

I had to coax this tulip to open a little in the rain. It could be said that gazing into the depths of a tulip is equivalent to discovering a small universe. Takes me right back to childhood and examining tulips growing in my mother’s flower garden. She favoured planting them in a straight row so that they flowered along the side of the concrete path, against the brick, garage wall. On sunny days, when the tulips all opened their eyes, I remember the surprise of the dark star contained inside each flower.

clematis – photo by Jill McKenzie

My sister Jill gave me permission to use these photos of her favourite flower, the beautiful clematis. She has planted it to grow up the trunk of an Olearia, situated where she can see it from her lounge. It reminds her of the times she and her late husband, Dave, took walks in the forest, specifically to locate clematis.

NZ clematis – CLEMATIS PANICULATA – photo by Jill McKenzie

Spotting their favourite flower, the clematis, became part of the story of their life together. I remember being in the car with them on trips around Wellington and along the Hutt Valley, where in Spring, white clematis can be seen in the trees and looking for all the world like patches of snow. I’d never noticed before. But when I was with Dave and Jill, I could no longer be excused for not noticing.

native clematis – photo taken by Jill McKenzie

“It’s a beautiful sight when you come across a clump of clematis in the middle of nowhere,” she told me.

Because Dave knew the botanical names for a lot of plants, this spurred Jill to at least commit to memory the name for clematis. Clematis Paniculata.

clematis close-up. Photo by Jill McKenzie
clematis even closer up. Photo taken by Jill McKenzie
morning glory on rock face

It is magical to be surprised by beauty. A bit like the surprise I got the other day coming across some morning glory growing in a crevice of a rock face.

graffiti on brick

Followed closely by the sight of the abbreviated form of my daughter’s name, scrawled in spray paint on a brick wall.

NZ house

And then, this house, begging me to take its photo. I love it – the orange cone, the blue bin, the stark map of NZ. The wonky wooden fence that stops halfway.

Surprised by Joy
Surprised by joy—impatient as the Wind
I turned to share the transport—Oh! with whom
But Thee, long buried in the silent Tomb,
That spot which no vicissitude can find?
Love, faithful love, recalled thee to my mind—
But how could I forget thee?—Through what power,
Even for the least division of an hour,
Have I been so beguiled as to be blind
To my most grievous loss!—That thought’s return
Was the worst pang that sorrow ever bore,
Save one, one only, when I stood forlorn,
Knowing my heart’s best treasure was no more;
That neither present time, nor years unborn
Could to my sight that heavenly face restore.


Writer from Dunedin, New Zealand.

2 thoughts on “The Flowery & The Stark

  1. Love our native clematis! Jill’s is looking really stunning and those are such great photos. We often spotted it in treetops in the spring when driving to/from Papatowai when we lived there, we’d always watch out for it!

    Liked by 1 person

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