Spring at my fingertips


Magnolia blooms

I either go biking or walking most mornings and love looking over hedges and fences into people’s gardens to look at the various flowers and plants growing. This pastime has become even more important to me lately, as I now live in an apartment, and no longer have a back or front yard of my own. A couple of days ago, I went walking with my daughter, and took photos of trees full of blossom, and some daffodils against a wall in a garden. This was in anticipation of my next post, where I thought to feature the change in seasons by sketching some blossoms. To achieve what I had in mind, I needed some actual blooms. Procuring live specimens proved harder than I thought. My neighbours in Devonport have many trees which overhang footpaths or fences. Their gardens however, are far from unruly, and their splendid magnolias were hidden behind manicured hedges, too far for my vagrant fingers to pluck any wayward blossoms. Not to worry, I thought, thinking of someone who had such a tree. The following morning I biked to my friend’s house, and she was pleased to let me have some magnolia for my task. Alas, after a day, the blooms drooped, but there was one I could save. It was a spindly-leafed variety and looked quite interesting in its depressed state.


Magnolia ‘Susan’

And then, this morning I decided I should try and hunt out a few more specimens for my sketches and came across a Kōwhai, a native New Zealand tree, which was conveniently in bud, and I nipped off a piece to pop in my pocket.


Kōwhai buds

Further along the street, I found a pretty pink Mānuka shrub (another New Zealand native) hanging over a stone wall and gently eased off a small twig abundant with flowers. When I came to draw this however, I found it a bit fiddly and settled for a photo instead.


I prefer to sketch outdoors, but as our weather in Auckland is rather unstable in this spell between winter and spring, fine one minute and raining the next, the experience is something I shun. My study is warm, and quiet, looks out onto the street and beyond to Mount Victoria. My drawing easel is old but it works, and I am attached to it. There is nothing like placing a clean sheet of paper on the easel and striking those first marks. It is rather like spring itself, taking one by surprise.

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