Suburban biodiversity, Browns Avenue Park, Auckland.

There has been some debate in the Auckland region lately about maintenance (or lack of) of suburban street berms, areas which generally lie on the public/private land threshold. Part of the ‘protest’ by some has been to stop mowing these areas.

A positive spinoff of not ‘maintaining’ such areas is an increase in urban biodiversity: plants that are usually cut are flowering profusely, and nectar-loving fauna are reaping the benefits. 

I took these photos at a local park to further highlight the idea that in some landscapes less ’maintenance’ can bring more biodiversity, as well as creating a more fascinating aesthetic for our urban green spaces.

Photos: hinter/DM ©

Ngunguru River
Photo: hinter/DM ©

Ngunguru River

Photo: hinter/DM ©

Parsonsia heterophylla
Kaihua or New Zealand jasmine is an evergreen vine that is endemic to NZ. It can be found on lowland forest margins where it flowers profusely in spring. The sweetly perfumed flowers may continue to appear in summer and autumn, and are attractive to certain insects. Leaf shape is highly variable in its juvenile stages, becoming more consistent as it takes adult form. 
In cultivation, Parsonsia heterophylla is a highly adaptable and attractive garden plant both for its foliage and flowers, and a desirable alternative to exotic (and sometimes invasive) vine species.
Photo: hinter/DM ©

Parsonsia heterophylla

Kaihua or New Zealand jasmine is an evergreen vine that is endemic to NZ. It can be found on lowland forest margins where it flowers profusely in spring. The sweetly perfumed flowers may continue to appear in summer and autumn, and are attractive to certain insects. Leaf shape is highly variable in its juvenile stages, becoming more consistent as it takes adult form. 

In cultivation, Parsonsia heterophylla is a highly adaptable and attractive garden plant both for its foliage and flowers, and a desirable alternative to exotic (and sometimes invasive) vine species.

Photo: hinter/DM ©

Fuchsia procumbens

This is the smallest Fuchsia in the world, and is relatively rare in the wild due to habitat destruction. It is however a very useful garden plant in northern New Zealand, where it is widely cultivated. Its prostrate stems and abundant leaves often thrive in sun or shade. Edible red berries appear in early winter.

Photos: hinter/DM ©

Autumn fungi-spotting, Stainz, Austria

Photos: hinter/DM ©

Traditional timber landscape structures #2, Freilichtmuseum Stübing, Austria

More examples of vernacular landscape construction techniques. Simply beautiful.

Photos: hinter/DM ©

Seed sharing at the old glasshouses, Botanischer Garten, Graz

Photos: hinter/DM ©

Fences, Freilichtmuseum Stübing, Austria

The open-air museum at Stübing (near Graz) features traditional architecture from every region of Austria. Each building was moved to the site piece-by-piece, and many are the last remaining examples of their architectural style.

The whole site is managed as ‘traditionally’ as possible with limited input from modern machinery; traditional gardening techniques, grazing animals and extensive timber construction dominate the landscape. 

Here are several examples of traditional fencing techniques, each suited to the task and the materials at hand; not a nail, screw or concrete footing in sight. 

Very inspiring light-touch, vernacular landscape construction techniques which could easily be applied once more in a resource-depleted and ecologically uncertain future. GOLD.

Photos: hinter/DM ©

Defunct rural structures, Stainz, Austria.

Stone mill-wheel; corn-drying barn; sauerkraut press.

Photos: hinter/DM

Strangers gather beneath a bridge during heavy rain, Mur, Graz.
Photo: hinter/DM

Strangers gather beneath a bridge during heavy rain, Mur, Graz.


Photo: hinter/DM

Spielplatz (playground), Augarten & Afritsch-Garten, Graz


Being a father, I spend a lot of time walking the city in search of new areas to play. These  parks in Graz are examples of how good landscape design and simple, well-built structures can serve the younger members of our communities. Common features are:

-bold, simple and strong play-structures using natural materials (wood, rope etc)

-undulating landforms provide varying sight-lines and enhance the sense of play

-large trees for shade, climbing and hiding

-‘secret’ zones, muddy areas and sandy places

-moveable objects for ‘building’ and acting

-lots of colour and space for interpretative play among various age-groups

-non-poisonous plantings that can take a beating

Photos: hinter/DM

Macropiper excelsum (kawakawa) with leaf damage from the larvae of the NZ native moth Cleora scriptaria.
Kawakawa is an important plant in traditional Maori medicine and a very useful shrub for dry, shady sites. It is fast-growing and very responsive to pruning.
Photo: hinter/DM ©

Macropiper excelsum (kawakawa) with leaf damage from the larvae of the NZ native moth Cleora scriptaria.

Kawakawa is an important plant in traditional Maori medicine and a very useful shrub for dry, shady sites. It is fast-growing and very responsive to pruning.

Photo: hinter/DM ©

Clianthus puniceus, Te Aro, Wellington.
Commonly known as kōwhai ngutu-kākā or kaka beak, this NZ native shrub is critically endangered in the wild, yet is a relatively common (though short-lived) garden plant.
Photo: hinter/DM ©
 

Clianthus puniceus, Te Aro, Wellington.

Commonly known as kōwhai ngutu-kākā or kaka beak, this NZ native shrub is critically endangered in the wild, yet is a relatively common (though short-lived) garden plant.

Photo: hinter/DM ©

 

Moss-covered wall, Altstadt, Graz.
This alley lies between some of the oldest building in Graz. The hydrological, climatic and material conditions produced this stunning ‘sheet’ of moss. 
Photo: hinter/DM

Moss-covered wall, Altstadt, Graz.

This alley lies between some of the oldest building in Graz. The hydrological, climatic and material conditions produced this stunning ‘sheet’ of moss. 

Photo: hinter/DM

Seat/vehicular barrier, Karmeliterplatz, Graz.
One-off ‘insert’ into an urban landscape. Pre-cast concrete slab on steel feet.
Photo: hinter/DM

Seat/vehicular barrier, Karmeliterplatz, Graz.

One-off ‘insert’ into an urban landscape. Pre-cast concrete slab on steel feet.

Photo: hinter/DM