I am beginning to get slightly embarrassed by the frequency I am writing “another New Zealand native”. Well this Phormium “Platt’s Black” is another and was bred by Graham Platt in Aukland. The marketing chaps call this the blackest of all phormiums but in truth it is a rather wonderous and lustrous purple. It is an excellent foil to both silver and golden foliaged plants, and orange flowers look fantastic against these dark swarthes. The Maoris used the leaves in the same way as Europeans used flax, hence the common name of New Zealand Flax. The fibres were processed and used to make cloth, and construct mats and baskets. The flower spikes are overflowing with nectar which attracts both insects and birds, such as the indigenous NZ tui bird, which act as pollinators.
Black is also an appropriate colour for my mood today. The idyllic crisp winter’s days were short lived and we are again, frustratingly, back to mizzly miserable weather. On the way home I got a flat tyre in a place the AA refused to acknowledge existed (“but what is the road called?” “the road to Lee from Ilfracombe” “but what is its name?” “maybe the road to Ilfracombe from Lee” “I need a name” “it doesn’t have a name, maybe Gladys, I don’t know”!) Thanks to all who helped, or offered, or tried, or gave me a cup of tea and a warm dry kitchen to sit in; for a road that doesn’t exist there certainly were plenty of people about.