“Where are we going?” asked The Husband. “To Taitua Arboretum”, I replied. “What’s there?” “Um, trees…”

The Sunday before last, I decided that The Husband and I would go to Tatiua Arboretum for the first time. I had heard that it was a nice place to walk around, but all I really knew was where it was and that it had a lot of trees. On Taitua Road, just a little east of Hamilton en route to Raglan, Taitua Arboretum is a great collection of mature trees across 20 hectares of mixed farmland, stands of trees, woodland plantings and small lakes. It is maintained by the Hamilton City Council.

Cream rooster

The first thing I noticed was the chickens. I love a place that has chickens wandering around, and Taitua has a fascinating collection of chickens and roosters of all different colours and varieties. My favourites were the little family of chocolate-speckled chickens, which were friendly and oh-so-cute. I wanted to take them home.

Ok, enough with the chickens. It is hard to describe the rest of the place, other than using the word ‘trees’. Simple tracks meander throughout the property, leading you past different collections of trees. There were some natives, though not nearly enough for my liking. The carpark area is actually planted with some beautiful natives; perhaps that’s why I was expecting to see more native under-plantings around the trees. In any case, I was delighted to see two tui sitting in the trees, singing to each other.

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There was a Prunus collection, the family that consists of many of our fruit trees, including peaches, plums, cherries, apricots and almonds. They are not particularly interesting in winter though. There were maples, many, many conifers, oaks, blue gums, birches, bamboo and so much more. Groups of the same kind of trees can be so fascinating. They just require a bit more space than mass planting with, say, grasses! The Husband soon left me behind, as I was being my usual slow, photographer self. Also, I was looking for a half-wild kitten that was hiding in the bushes. It refused to be photographed.

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My favourite stand of trees… I don’t actually know what they were, as I was hurrying to catch up to The Husband, who had disappeared from all sight. They were tall, pale and deciduous, with gnarled roots spreading on top of the swampy ground beneath them. I also liked the blue gums (Eucalyptus species) and the redwoods (Sequoia species), which reminded me of being in Hanmer Springs. I will definitely have to go to Taitua Arboretum again during all the other seasons. Winter is, perhaps, the least exciting time to go, however, the low afternoon soon does beautiful things amongst the trees and I loved the place.

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