Paulette Meldrum – Botanics – Coastal Kowhai Fabaceae
My choice of flowering tree was very easy as we have the beautiful golden flowered Kowhai in our back garden. From my research I have found there are five varieties of Kowhai in New Zealand. The Coastal Kowhai is only found in the North Island, south to Tongaporutu River in the west and Waihi in the east. In the lower North Island it is found in the Kapiti area, on Kapiti Island and around the water inlets of Porirua and Pauatahanui, on Somes Island in Wellington harbour and the Chatham Islands. Also grows on cliffs near the sea and along streams on calcareous and other alkaline substrates.
The specimen in our garden could grow to a height of 20 m with spreading branches. Leaves are alternate, pinnately compound, up to 15 cm long and have 12 – 16 pairs of leaflets. With this variety of Kowhai the seed pods from the previous year start dropping when the tree flowers in Spring, They are predominantly a golden yellow, but when the buds first emerge they have a tinge of lime green. The leaves appear after flowering. The seed pods can be up to 18cm long and have individual compartments with one seed in each, and the seeds are bright yellow. The Kowhai attracts our nectar feeder the beautiful NZ Tui.
Technique – The background is a hand dye (purchased from my favourite source), which is then hand painted. The other fabrics are in golden yellow, greens and browns from my stock of hand dyed fabric.
The first step was using the leaves as templates for printing on the background fabric and on the tree, using fabric paint and a brayer. The flowers and buds were sketched, then transferred with a light box to freezer paper to use as templates on the selected fabrics and attached to the background with fusible web.
The piece was finished with coloured pens, pencils, fabric paint and oil pastels. Machine and hand stitched before adding a facing.
Close up view: