Finding hope

I was contemplating writing about poinsettias* as a Christmas topic that is not derived from our own garden. Though I am not sure that I have anything to say about poinsettias that I have not said before. My world has become so much smaller this year. But then I came across two minor incidents that seemed to capture hope.

Christmas this year seems especially poignant. While we, in our archipelago of five million, can lead close to normal lives, nothing, anywhere, is normal. Our degree of disruption is just less than so many other places and we can go about our day to day business without fear. Our hearts go out to those in other countries where life is so very difficult and spirits are low.  

My local town of Waitara is widely regarded as … fairly unprepossessing, shall I say? But two sights yesterday made me smile. Blink and you might miss the first one. It is in the bottom left of the photo.

Not a lonely little petunia in an onion patch but a brave, little, self-seeded petunia flowering in a sea of ashphalt and concrete right beside the gutter. The seed must have fallen from a hanging basket above. A tiny beacon of hope and survival, maybe.

Along came a woman with her hair wreathed in Christmas tinsel. I asked her if I might photograph her from behind, to preserve her anonymity. Though, upon reflection, you don’t go out adorned like that if you wish to remain anonymous. She turned so I could photograph the rear view and then told me I could photograph the front if I wished. Is she not both brave and beautiful?

May you find your own little harbingers of hope if Christmas is a difficult time for you this year.

Back to the topic of poinsettias

*Should you wish to know more about poinsettia, I can refer you to

1) The travesty that is the ‘cream’ poinsettia

2) cultural requirements for the poinsettia

3) a note about the universality of the poinsettia – this time in China in a brief para and photo at the end of this piece:

But I do not appear to have shared these photos of a splendid poinsettia flowering in front a friend’s house in New Plymouth in June this year. I think he told me it was just a house plant he had put into the garden where it grew and grew.

We do not have a poinsettia here in any shape or form, though I did once try planting out a Christmas houseplant whereupon it just became insignificant for reasons explained in the second link above. Had I been more patient, it may have ended up looking as exotic and large as our friend’s garden specimen.

It is a sign of different times that our Christmas presents this year are arriving with no festive wrapping. Our children, all living out of reach overseas, have resorted to remote shopping online and remote delivery. A minor sign of a Covid Christmas, even in safe New Zealand.

12 thoughts on “Finding hope

    1. tonytomeo

      We are experiencing what some refer to as lockdown here. People are protesting what they perceive to be a violation of their right to spread disease. It is all so silly, and very unfortunate.

    2. Abbie Jury Post author

      As a former nurseryperson, I have to admire the utter, factory-like production of quality and consistency in the seasonal poinsettia offering. And very reasonably priced, too. But I still don’t want one. Good luck with your semi-lockdown (referred to as ‘lockdown lite’ by some). We had an extreme lockdown right back at the beginning through two cycles of infection – so about 24 days, I think. There were protests and some hostile opposition but only verbal so a very high level of compliance. That is how we got rid of it. But it seems too late to do that now in countries riddled with it, even though it would still work. Too many nay-sayers to get the level of compliance to make it work. It seems your only hope now is the vaccine. Stay safe.

      1. tonytomeo

        Efficiency is desirable, but poinsettias are too efficiently grown. It takes all the fun out of it. Easter lilies are about as bland. Although I appreciate such efficiency for other growers, I do not admire or envy it at all.

  1. Paddy Tobin

    Poinsettias are no more than Christmas decorations, a short-term pleasant splash of colour in the house though they last long enough to see out the season in good condition – better than other seasonal plants such as hyacinths and amaryllis. Their red bracts match the traditional seasonal colour, of course.

    Otherwise, Covid19 etc, we will have a quiet Christmas. Our youngest son is coming home for a few days. He lives about 80 miles away. We are nervous about this but one can’t refuse! He has worked all through the pandemic, a pharmacist, and has been very careful but, nonetheless from our point of view, he has been out and about and, to us, perhaps a danger.

    Best wishes to you and family. Happy Christmas.

      1. Paddy Tobin

        He is not coming home for Christmas after all. Very upsetting but the best for safety. Our first Christmas on our own in 40 years!

      2. Abbie Jury Post author

        That was us last year – our first Christmas alone for 39 years. A dry run, it seems for this year. And it was okay. Different but okay. I didn’t try and reproduce all the traditions we had built up over 39 years because that would have been sad on our ownsome. Bit sad here to see the trans-Tasman travel bubble receding into the distance with this major Sydney outbreak. We had been hoping travel to and from Australia would be open again in April so we could see our offspring in person again but that is looking less likely, again. All the best to you and Mrs T.

  2. elainebolitho

    Christmas blessings Abbie and Mark. This year the NZ Christmas carol “Carol our Christmas, an upside down Christmas’ seems to take on new meaning!

    Elaine Bolitho

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