Fan girl squee – meet one of my fave authors!

As part of NZ Book Month celebrations here in Christchurch, we have very cleverly managed to organise a couple of visits by Karen Healey, one of my most favouritest authors ever.

I came across Karen’s first book Guardian of the Dead purely by accident. Sifting through a pile of new books some years ago, I found a cover that I really liked, and put it on my desk. It was only when I took the book home and started to read, that I found that it was a local book, by a local author, and set in and around my very own Christchurch. Jam-packed full of excitement, mystery, magic and Maori myth, it kept me riveted till the very end. I loved the way Karen had blended European and Maori history, literature and legend, and had set the book in a Christchurch that was absolutely recognisable.  Her second book, The Shattering, followed a year later, and was just as good a read.

Earlier this year, I was lucky enough to get an advance copy of Karen’s third book When We Wake. I took it home and devoured it in one sitting. It’s the story of Tegan, 16 years old and living in Melbourne in 2027. She goes to a political rally, is caught in an assassination attempt and shot, and wakes to find that she’s become the first person to be cryogenically frozen and revived. It’s 100 years in the future, Tegan has lost everyone and everything from her former life, and things in the future aren’t as rosy as they should be. In fact, they seem to be worse than they were when Tegan was alive the first time round.

Karen HealeyYou can come and meet Karen Healey and hear her talk about her books and writing as part of New Zealand Book Month celebrations.  She’ll be at Upper Riccarton Library on Tuesday 12 March at 5pm (with pizza for tea!), and at Central Library Tuam on Thursday 28 March, also at 5pm.  Bring a copy of her book/s with you, and she may even sign them for you!

If you want to read more about Karen, try her website. Read our 2010 interview.

Celebrating our native plants

One of the ways we celebrate our New Zealand environment is in our garden landscapes. I love the way New Zealand architects and landscapers have moved towards putting our houses firmly into their natural environment.

Getting the same effect in your own small un-architect-designed garden can be a bit more of a challenge. Landscaping with native plants is its own special skill.

The easy bit is getting the plants go grow. Choosing plants native to your own little bit of the New Zealand ecosystem guarantees plants that will flourish. Our own Christchurch City Council has published a wonderful series outlining the plants native to your bit of Otautahi.

Putting it together to create an harmonious whole demands creativity and a bit of understanding of the native ecosystem. Fortunately there are lots of books to help you out with ideas and information. We have a booklist If you want to landscape with New Zealand native plants to make it easy for you. Isobel Gabites lead the way in 1998 with a book which used natural plant associations to create designs for gardens. Many books since then have gone on to offer inspiring examples and essential planting information to help create the desired effect.

Think you need a lot of space for a native garden? Think again. What about this little beauty planted by the CCC gardeners outside the City Rebuild building on Lichfield Street (just behind the Lichfield Street carpark). It only measures around 3×7 metres and looks like a mini forest.

CCC native garden by City Rebuild in Lichfield St
CCC native garden by City Rebuild in Lichfield St