Our work takes us to many parts of the country, allowing us to design in a wide array of contexts and utilise an interesting range of both native and exotic plants in our designs. Over the 15 years that O2 Landscapes has been running (and before its inception), I have gained indepth knowledge of a large amount of the country. However, it is also important for the other members of O2 Landscapes to gain firsthand impressions of other regions when we work further afield.
Accordingly, Winston, Rob and I flew down to Central Otago for a research trip at the beginning of April, in preparation for a number of projects in this region. Aside from the benefit of seeing the habitats in which worthwhile plants occur (and therefore the conditions to which they are adapted), we are also interested in more abstract landscape qualities, such as vegetation patterns, geology or even the prevalence of some colours in certain landscapes.
In the case of Otago’s dry interior, the colour blue is a characteristic that is exhibited by many plants, such as the bright blue spikes of Aciphylla glaucescens (in the top image, right) or the softer grey-blue leaves of the related Aciphylla simplex (in the top image, left). This is also manifested in the foliage of several grasses that grow on one of the sites that we are working on; notably Anthosachne (syn. Elymus) solandri and Poa colensoi.
We are not just interested in natural features within landscapes, as in the case of the striking arrangement of concrete walls built into waterfalls in Wye Valley (on the western flank of the Remarkables) to divert water into a major pipe (pictured above). Another impression (amongst many that we absorbed over the weekend) was the pattern established by billowing, reddish shrubs of Coprosma crassifolia on a hillside near Luggate (as shown below).