Hello springtime

Spring has almost arrived – depending on which definition you use*  – and the weather is certainly reflecting this.

It is easy to be inspired by nature. When I was younger I used to take every opportunity to make something out of whatever I could find in the garden. Daisy chains, bouquets, weavings, dried flowers that just looked dead…couldn’t have anything nice in the garden with me around. Those lovely red roses would soon find themselves dangling from my bedroom door frame in a preserved state of shrivelled brown decay.

Christchurch City Libraries has a wealth of books that are full of ideas for the nature loving craftarians out there. Here are just a few:

Helen Ahpornsiri creates beautiful artwork out of pressed flowers. Her book, Helen Ahpornsiri’s A Year in the Wild, is a beautifully illustrated (with her pressed flower art – no paint in sight) account of the four seasons of the natural world. I will commission husband to make me a flower press at once. Or just use a heavy book.

For fans of both Shakespeare and the natural world, I introduce you to: Botanical Shakespeare, exquisitely illustrated with the flora and fauna cited in the works of the most famous playwright Shakespeare, alongside accompanying verses.

Though a British guide, Margaret Wilson’s Wild Flowers of Britain is so beautiful to look at that it really transports me to a scene straight out of English romance novel. The author was a keen botanist and documented, in watercolour, (over the course of a number of years!) a thousand British and Irish plants.

As a huge Tolkien fan, no way could I pass up on Flora of Middle-Earth. This book is a catalog of each and every plant found in Tolkien’s fictional world, Middle-Earth. Nerdy bliss.

The Great Library Seed and Plant Swap

Where & When: At a library near you

About: The seed swap has proved wildly successful over the years, just bring in your leftover seeds and we’ll put them out to share (though don’t worry if you don’t have any this year, you can always bring some next year 🙂 ). We welcome vegetable, herb, flower, native, and heritage seeds. You can also bring any spare potted-up seedlings. Yay gardening.

Check out our gardening page for gardening information and resources.

A Naturalist’s Bookshelf

Now about that spring cleaning…

*The astrological/solar beginning of spring takes place at the vernal equinox on Sunday, 23 September. The meteorological reckoning has the beginning of spring as 1 September.

Photo Hunt October: Daffodils in Hagley Park, 1944

Daffodils in Hagley Park
Entry in the Christchurch City Libraries 2009 Photo Hunt. Kete Christchurch-HW08-D-009-Daffodils in Hagley Park. CC-BY-NC-SA-3.0 NZ

Kevin and his mum amongst the daffodils in Hagley Park in Spring 1944.

See more images of daffodils from Kete Christchurch.

Christchurch City Libraries has been running an annual Photo Hunt in conjunction with the city’s Heritage Week since 2008.  The 2016 Photo Hunt is running again from 1 – 31 October. During the month of October we will be posting a series of images from earlier Photo Hunts.

Enter the 2016 hunt online or at your local library.

Kete Christchurch is a collection of photographs and stories about Christchurch & Canterbury, past and present. Anyone can join and contribute.

Spring is sprung!

Have an eyeful with this bouquet of blossom reads:

Book cover of Blossom street brides Book cover of Rose harbour in bloom  Book cover of The blossom sisters 

Time to go awandering

The best thing about spring is being able to get outside and enjoy the fresh air without having to don hat, coat, gloves and three jerseys over head-to-toe polypropylene. Walking to work now seems more like a happy possibility than an inevitable grind. Gardens are flowering, birds are singing and fellow walkers pass with a cheery wave and ‘Morning!’ rather than a furrowed brow and a dripping nose.

Christchurch has some wonderful walkways which are well worth exploring. Many of these have been repaired since the earthquakes and they’re a great way of getting out and about in the city. There are walking groups catering for every level of fitness. Take for example the Sunday Walking Group which meets weekly or the thirty minute Walk and Talk programme for people wanting to combine exercise with some social interaction.

If you’re already fighting fit and in need of a challenge, there are tramping groups that head to the hills for day hikes or longer. Walking sports such as race or Nordic walking are guaranteed to give even the hardiest outdoor pursuiter a great workout. These groups are a great way of getting to know like-minded souls.

It seems the whole of Christchurch is getting into walking mode. The Breeze Walking Festival starts next weekend with a programme that celebrates everything the Eastern suburbs have to offer. There are 22 walks taking in the wildlife, local history, forest and coastline around Pegasus Bay and three ultimate walking prize packs to be won.

In the meantime, why not take a mellow stroll around the Christchurch Botanical Gardens? The blossoms are out and the magnolias are looking splendid. The Gardens would be my favourite walking spot. What’s yours?

Time to spring into your garden

Spring is a great time to get enthused about your garden. Regardless of the size of your section, balcony or paddock we have load of gardening resources for you.

If your soil is still a bit cold for such things as tomatoes, you can start planning what goes where, and when to plant. Some frost-tender plants can be started in glasshouses, cloches or on your windowsill.

Vegetable gardens are very popular in spring. Start putting nutients in your soil now while you decide what to plant.

Before outdoor summer entertaining, you could renovate your courtyard or garden room, or make new garden furniture. How about garden sculptures?

Got no room? Container gardens  can thrive in a small space. Got loads of room? How about planting an orchard and  large trees and hedges.

Through the Source you can access Gardening, Landscape and Horticulture. A collection of more than 100 journals focused on key issues in gardening, landscaping, and other areas of horticulture. You can access it with your library card number and PIN.

Don’t have a PIN? Ask at one of our libraries or call us. PINs allow you to access your library account information and place holds on items through the online catalogue. Your PIN also gives you free access to  the Source — paid services the library subscribes to.

What are you growing this season? Any good tips to share?

Music to my ears – Spring has sprung

DaffodilIt’s September, and getting warmer! What could be nicer than a good walk round the Botanic Gardens, or on the sunny side of the street?
And if you need some music to put some Spring in your step:

  • Try God help the girl – the new album by Belle and Sebastian main man Stuart Murdoch. It is the perfect soundtrack for the season – sparkling 60s style girl singer pop with a hint of a chilly undertone (like that nasty little Nor-easter).
  • Listen to Fujiya and Miyagi – wonderful walking music, it thrums along with a deep and resonant vocal and music that’s a bit quirky. The track Knickerbocker has an endless refrain of “vanilla strawberry knickbocker glory”, what’s Spring without an ice-cream treat?
  • Roxy Music – there was a doco on Prime a few weeks ago, and it felt like every song mentioned brought a gasp. Do the Strand (there’s a stonking cover version of this  by Scissor Sisters on War Child presents Heroes). Same old scene. Avalon.

What music says Spring to you?