As Sydney's climate is warmer than New Zealand's, it's no great surprise to find that the popular kiwi plant called 'NZ Christmas Bush' is in flower here already, in spring. It's doing a great job for me in my ugly side passage, where all the various wheelie-style garbage bins and the air-conditioner unit live. From the street, all passers-by see is a tall potted plant with green-blue foliage topped with fuzzy red pom poms. And that was the plan, and each year it's working better than the last.
Here's the top half – the showtime section – of my kiwi gatekeeper this morning. This year's blooming is better than last year's, which was better than the year before, etc, etc.
Standing back at street level looking down the side passage, and the cover-up is complete. Instead of boring bins you see greenery, and beyond the Christmas bush the greenery of the angel wing begonias.
The flowers are little starbursts of hundreds of fine crimson needles, each tipped with a tiny golden bobble.
Though it's covered in flowers there are plenty more to come, just waiting to burst from their little clusters of buds.
Caught in the act, the explosion of each flower is slow-spreading fire. Indeed, several cultivars of this plant, whose name is Metrosideros, have 'fire' in their name (such as 'Fiji Fire').
I've blogged about this lovely plant before, here. It's one worth recommending to people in similar climates for several reasons, apart from its beauty and hardiness. One big positive is that it is doing well in a lousy spot, with just partial morning sun from about 8am, and shade from about midday onwards. I know that these things also do well in full sun and they cope brilliantly with coastal spots full of salty sea spray, although that isn't an issue for me.
Mine is in a pot that has built-in pot feet, and I think good soil drainage is a reason it's happy. I also feed it slow-release plant food, which is ideal for anything in a pot, and I'm a good boy when it comes to watering it, too.
In return, it has never misbehaved, been attacked by pests or looked unwell. My only worry is that someone, a passer-by, will steal it some day. They'll need more than light fingers, though. It now weighs a ton!