Sunday, March 21, 2010
The Herb Farm near Ashurst is an excellent place to visit if you're interested in indulging your sensory functions... smell the delicious herbs and flowers, listen to the breeze rustling the leaves of tall eucalyptus trees and the sounds of distant magpies chortling, and later, taste some of the delicious food available at their little restaurant (they also flavour their drinking water with something called "Mexican Marigold", which sounds potentially sketchy but tastes lovely).
Here a gum tree, fence and a kind of woodshed are some of the elements that make up the "look" of the Manawatu for me. Those trees were everywhere, like their fellow immigrants the poplars and (marking out streams and rivers) the lines of weeping willows. A paddock in the background completes the scene that was very familiar to me as a child.
Gum trees grow much more rapidly in New Zealand than they do in their native Australia, due to the temperate climate (more rainfall, more growth). They sprout slim branches that shoot out laterally from the trunk and often break off and fall, because the quick growth doesn't allow them time to grow strong enough to support themselves at the trunk. The trees are often surrounded by a pile of their own detritus--small branches, leaves, and the stringy/papery bark the peels off in long strips, leaving a smooth skinlike layer of new bark below.
They also smell fantastic.