Sunday, February 10, 2008

A Whangarei Walk

Saturday afternoon I reached a point I sometimes get to in a burst of new thinking when the energy generated is too great to be released simply by writing it down. I have to move my whole body- walking or dancing or cleaning. So I slipped pen and paper into my bag along with the water bottle and set off on foot, first to the Quarry to check out Sue Forward's new exhibition, Arcadia.
This is the same gallery where I had my Domestic Pilgrimage show last year. Look how she has transformed the space into a beautiful woodland in which to show her ceramic garden sculptures. I liked her big centaur and the bell, both partially visible in the right of the photo, but I was most impressed by the arrangements of bark, plants, and vessels of water all evoking an Arcadia inside.

I carried on walking up the track from the Quarry into the bush. My mind still boiling with new ideas I stopped to write them down at a lookout point near the pa site. On the wooden seat there I found this poignant exchange:

I carried on up the hill and had a strange encounter with a very cool tree:
My goal was to visit the Quarry Gardens for the first time, but the signage on the bush tracks is sparse so I took a much more roundabout route than necessary, but it was a pleasant journey and when I did finally reach the Quarry Gardens via the front gate I was stunned at what I saw. I'd heard the subtropical Gardens were a volunteer project only started a few years ago so I was expecting something pretty unsophisticated.

What I found was a work in progress, to be sure, but one fairly well progressed and obviously with professional landscaping design and resources poured into it. Numerous well formed tracks and bridges; varied, lush, unusual plantings; lots of seats and lookouts; waterfalls and a lovely little lake... it was all quite impressive. I wandered about for a while, only encountering one group of visitors, but I didn't see all there was to explore in my acute awareness that I'd already been walking for 2 hours and I still had to find my way back over the hills to home.

Whangarei readers, if you haven't seen the Quarry Gardens yet, or recently, get yourself along! It's a cracker of a public park and a great place to take a picnic (but be warned there are no dogs allowed and no public toilets available). I saw lots of intriguing plants there, but these magnificent leaves really resonated with my current passion for tropical foliage.

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