Now that temperatures are plummeting in Denver, it’s hard not to think back on the magical three weeks I just spent in New Zealand on a lecture tour where I was representing Denver Botanic Gardens. There are so many fabulous things to see in that distant island. A highlight for me as a lover of alpine flowers were the vegetable sheep—huge cushion plants in the Daisy Family that grow only in New Zealand. Almost a dozen species in the genus Raoulia and Haastia qualify for this common name.
You can see me happily sitting with a flock of Raoulia eximia, one of the choicest of the bunch, on Mt. Edwards, near Tekapo, in Otago province of the South Island.
Here’s an even more stunning specimen of the same species of Raoulia.
And here's Raoulia mammilaris, another amazing cushion. You can almost hear them “Baaaa!”
Of course, the gardens—both public and private—are full of exotic flowers of all kinds. I don’t think I’ve seen such a stunning range of plants grown better anywhere. It wasn’t unusual to find a garden full of Chinese alpine flowers, tree ferns, Proteas from South Africa, aloes and of course lots of veggies! Above is a tiny glimpse of a phenomenal private garden in Canterbury at a farm belonging to Bronwyn McCone.
Where else can you find forests of ten kinds of tree ferns next to glacier-filled valleys? Where else are vast flocks of vegetable sheep found near vaster flocks of real sheep? Charming towns and the most generous, friendly people imaginable! Can’t wait to visit again soon.