Hawkes Bay


Here in New Zealand, the sap has risen – trees everywhere are bursting in to leaf . The short, grey days of July are consigned to memory – until next year. The blue skies and warm winds of spring invite skiving off. One day last week we did just that. Abandoning our desks and the piles of paper work, we drove to Central Hawkes Bay to pick daffodils.

Daffodils as far as the eye can see

Mabin Family Daffodils, at Taniwha Station, are well known. You could say they’re an institution. Their farm is  on the Takapau Plains – about an hour and a half’s drive from Napier. It’s well signposted but if you should happen to miss the signs there’s no missing the daffodils. There are ten hectares of them.

The Mabin family sell the daffodils to raise funds for Plunket.  For those who don’t know, in New Zealand,  Plunket provides support for new mothers and children up to the age of five. It’s been around since the turn of last century.  (Plunket got its rather strange name from an early patron.)

At Taniwha Station for the price of a bunch – $4:00 for thirty stems – you can enjoy the sunshine, the spectacular views to the Ruahine ranges, and pick your own blooms.

For me it’s impossible to see all those daffodils without thinking about the Wordsworths. William was a famous poet – famous enough to make it in to the literary canon. Daffodils, his most well-known poem, begins: I  wandered lonely as a cloud. You’ll probably have heard of it.


The swans were a  distraction

His sister Dorothy Wordsworth isn’t famous at all; or at least, not very.

But she is  credited with providing the inspiration for her brother’s daffodil poem. I suppose that is something. As is the case for so many women, her own talents were never fully developed. (If you sense me seething about that, you’d be right!)

After the picking is done there’s a very comfy seat and excellent coffee.  We got slightly carried away – the three bunches in the photo below are all ours!

Ah, coffee!

Ah, coffee!

Wherever you are in the world, what are you doing to celebrate the change of seasons?

When you look at daffodils, who do you muse about? William or Dorothy?

27 replies »

  1. Hi J! Plunket sounds like a great outreach!

    Also, I love William’s poem – had no idea about Dorothy’s part in it – (cool) and I hear ya on what you were seething about – and it makes me glad to live in a day with more equality- still not perfect, but so much better.

    and I just listened to a reading of Daffodils while I went to grab this ending stanza – and so thanks for this today – even though we are moving not fall I can celebrate spring with you my friend…
    anyhow, the ending stanza reminds me of how a lingering memory of such beauty can go on and on and on to keep inspiring us.

    For oft, when on my couch I lie
    In vacant or in pensive mood,
    They flash upon that inward eye
    Which is the bliss of solitude;
    And then my heart with pleasure fills,
    And dances with the daffodils.

    PS your pictures are great
    PSS = well like you and Pomme – O also agree that 1990 feels not that long ago.


  2. I don’t know much about flowers, but the swan photo is magnificent!
    In Helsinki we have quite mild weather at the moment. Long, sunny days. Difficult to believe that in a month, everything is going to be covered in snow and ice.


  3. It’s always interesting for me to think about spring coming to New Zealand as the year is winding down. I wonder how it changes a person’s perspective – the year ends as spring turns to summer. December solstice for us northern people means candles and log fires and “bringing back the light.” For you, the days are full of light. It’s interesting to think of the way that changes cultures and myths and the stories we tell our grandchildren – or our grandparents tell us. Our northern personal mythologies are built around something so primeval as the earth tilting on its axis. I expect the southern mythologies are too in some way. Daffodils mean a promise of spring and the end of the season of want. For you, they promise something else. I’d love to hear the “something else.


    • A very interesting question Janet. Worthy of an entire post – or several. But for now, the quick answer is that for most of us we don’t know anything else. Spring is still spring. For me, although our winters are mild, spring is always welcomed with a sense of relief and anticipation. And as for the year winding down, there’s a more a sense of winding up, as we start the run towards Christmas. This part of the year usually has lots of deadlines, some doable, some not.

      Most New Zealanders take extended holidays from Christmas into January. I look forward to it but it is often a source of complaint – overall business activity usually slows right down between Christmas and the middle of January. Traditionally Christmas is spent at or near the beach and that’s where we’ll be this year. Instead of adding light we’ll be out there enjoying the midsummer light! For me, I notice the dissonance between the festivals and the flow of the seasons most at the beginning of Lent and again at Easter. There’s something about Ash Wednesday at the end of the summer which I find rather bleak – the same with Easter. In the Northern Hemisphere, it marks the hope of spring and easier times. We march straight into cold (but not usually freezing) grey dreary days and long nights.

      In recent years there have been community celebrations for Matariki, Maori New Year, when Pleiades rises above the horizon. It marks the beginning of winter – traditionally a time of preparation for the next growth season. We do celebrate midwinter – sometimes with midwinter Christmas dinners.


  4. Jill–How beautiful your daffodils! I was in the basement today, looking at Fall bulbs to plant,and thinking of spring blooms. Your post is another lovely reminder.

    And I do seethe on Dorothy’s behalf, too!

    Looking forward to exploring the Books, Books, and More Books section of your blog…



  5. I love daffodils, and you are reminding me that I should start planning my spring garden. Fall is coming here in Canda, and before the end of October all the lovely tulips and daffodils bulbs should be firmly in the ground. The favorite activity here is visiting apple orchards to pick up fresh apples, and go in the moutain to admire the beautiful colors of the season.


    • Each year about now, I start craving apples, not any apple – it has to be freshly picked, straight from the tree. We’ll have the first of those in late January early February. In between times, there’s asparagus and strawberries and all the wonderful stone fruit to enjoy. But, for me, you just can’t beat the sweet- tangy crunch of a freshly picked apple.


  6. I love seeing the spring flowers in these photos. Here in the States (northeast) we are getting ready to watch the leaves burst into color. It’s been very dry, so we aren’t expecting a long period of fall foliage, but it will be a bright path toward winter.


  7. Daffodils always remind me of one glorious spring, a long time ago in 1990, when I worked for a year in Sussex UK. After living in NZ for 30 years I went back. I had a year with 4 well defined seasons and the best of all was when winter gave way to spring and “When all at once I saw a crowd,

    A host, of golden daffodils;

    Beside the lake, beneath the trees,

    Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.”

    Thank you for reminding me of that lovely sight Jill.


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