Some years the blossom is sparse, but this year every tree has been ‘dressed in its best’.
Up close, or from a distance, the trees with their rich dark green leaves and glorious red blossom are truly something to behold. The clusters of flower heads, before they burst forth into bloom, are a soft silky silver grey, as is the underside of the leaves. The bark is thick and ridged in mottled shades of greys, browns, and reds; and warm to the touch in the summer sun.
These gracious trees line beach fronts and streets, parks and bush.
I’ve taken so many photographs.
Prediction states that if the pohutukawa flowers early and prolifically, it will be a long hot summer. This year the trees bloomed late and were still blooming long into January.
Here in the North Island, we are having a cooler, rainy, windy summer so far – I’ve only been for one swim.
I recall past summers swimming beneath the overhanging branches of the trees, the sea richly red with fallen blossom. What fun it was to swim through that dense red mat, feeling the brush of the soft needle-like flower bracts brush against my skin.
I was lucky enough to have two wonderful old pohutukawa trees at the back of a property I once owned. Their giant grey branches reached out over the river in graceful embrace. I loved to stand on a huge trunk with my back braced against another, and watch the tuis dip and dive among the branches above, and sip the honey-sweet blossom nectar.
Their song would wake me early, but I didn’t mind. I would lie and listen to them, knowing that soon it would be morning and high in the pohutukawa trees the bees would be at work gathering pollen, and that when the sun’s rays touched the trees, the red flowers would shine like rubies.