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  • Writer's pictureGabriela Weber

The good life in paradise (part 4: summerholidays and dolce far niente?)

January means national summer holiday season here in New Zealand..... everything stands still, shops are closed, you find free parking spaces in the city, the Pohutukawa trees are blooming a fire red and the cicadas are starting to make their clapping mating sound.

Small general stores with takeaways are the hub of those sleepy beach places which come alive in the summer holidays.

In January the main beaches up here are crowded (despite the lack of tourists at the moment!). Although the word "crowded" is not to be taken quite so literally if you know how populated beaches are in Europe in summer...

The only way to drive to those houses in the back is by this beach at low

tide, the "beach" is classified as an official road!

Summer is not an extremely quiet time for us gardeners. Watering the plants is a main task. Tom has divided our large garden into areas and thus has control over which plants get water and how often. Luckily we had some pretty good rainy days in December and the tank was almost full at the end of the year and actually right now as I write this blog we have a major low with lots of rain. Our water supply is now well secured for this season!

I have no veggie garden running at the moment because it is too hot. Have some lettuces in pots in the shade which are growing very well. Some plants that love to grow in the sun in the Northern Hemisphere grow better here with a little bit of shade. Aloe Vera plants for example, which are native to the Arabian Peninsula, exposed to the most intense sun there, thrive best in semi-shade here. I assume that it is due to the high UV radiation in summer, which is one of the highest in the world.

Three facts make New Zealand UV radiation 40% higher than Great Britain at the highest level compared.

  • New Zealand is closest to the Sun in December and January cause the earth elliptical shape. Because of the earth's shape New Zealand is closer to the sun than countries in the Northern Hemisphere during their summers.

  • New Zealand has little air pollution which would block out UV levels.

  • In summer/autumn, the ozone layer is thinnest over New Zealand, allowing more UV rays to penetrate.

As for my art.....

I took a creative break in January. If the ideas are no longer "flowing", it's about time to have a break. As an artistic person, my mind is always working. Everything is evaluated from the point of view that it could "have artwork potential". When you're on the go, you always see things that inspire you. Sometimes that can be just a bit too much and one has to shift ones focus on other things.

Meantime, the desire to spend a day or two in the studio has come back. It is good timing as in March there is a sculpture exhibition in Whangarei coming on, where I exhibit a few pieces (Sculpture Northland/Garden Quarry 11.3.-20.3.2022).

Last blogs......

The answer to our previous blog question: Tom and I celebrated our silver /25th year wedding anniversary. Unfortunately I lost track of the winners in the flood of social media. Sorry mates! Please let me know if you think you have won. :-).

Our attempt to propagate the Dammaropsis giant fig through "air layering" (stimulation of roots directly on the branch) seems have worked. Roots grew out of the branch and we were able to cut the branch off along with the roots and plant a perfect plant. In this way we can save ourselves the purchase of a new plant, which costs due to its rarity over 100 NZD in a garden retail shop.

My dear readers. I wish you, wherever you are in summer or winter, a lovely time.


“Try to be a rainbow in someone’s cloud.”

Photo beach: Tim Marshall / unsplash

Photo palm: Nathan Hurst / unsplash

Photo sun/sea: Tony Sebastian / unsplash

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