Old friends that used to live in the garden state sought a life where the garden grows year round in the beautiful country of New Zealand. I was fortunate enough to travel to Waiheke Island near Auckland on the North Island to learn more. A naturalist explained to me that the ecology is quite fragile there because, as an island, it has long been subject to visitors introducing exotics and they have their fair share of work to restore balance to the local ecology.
One of the most notable natives along the tour was an ancient Puriri Tree (Vitex lucens). Unlike the life cycle common to trees in the eastern US, the Pururi Tree flowers and fruits continuously in a never ending cycle of reproduction.
Our trees go dormant just after dispersing their fruit in various seed forms and are now quietly awaiting spring to flower. This tree, however, never sleeps! It is one of the reasons its aptly nicknamed the Mother of the Forest and rumor has it that it was the inspiration of James Cameron's Tree of Souls in the movie, Avatar. It is a vital host for the lovely Ghost Moth that, in its caterpillar phase, can take shelter there for up to five years before it goes thru its transformation into a moth.
I marvel at the possibility that the Mother of the Forest could have something to do the fact that New Zealand ranks in the top five countries in the world on Social Progression--an index measuring the multiple dimensions of social progress, benchmarking success, and catalyzing greater human wellbeing.
Perhaps Mother does know best!