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Penning words with flamboyant adjectives about Welcome Aboard’s Christchurch Botanic Gardens Caterpillar tour is threatening to sound like a well-worn record.  (Remember the days when vinyl music discs did wear out?)

With no apologies I am at it again.  I popped down to the Gardens essentially to check up on my friend Ken Henderson who recently became the new face conducting Caterpillar Garden Tours.  I worked pleasantly with Ken on the trams, frequently introducing him as one of a small number of people I knew who wears a permanent smile.

Our Botanic Gardens are ablaze with Spring.  Tulips are past their best but several border plots of poppy are superb.  In such surroundings of colour the decorative Peacock Fountain is looking its springtime best.  Rhododendrons are also in profusion, many with variable delicate shades reminding me once again of the ingenuousness of nature.  And I am awed by the delicate makeup of a tree of Red Hawthorn flowers.  (Something I had not noticed prior to joining a Caterpillar tour.)

Even more amazing were the gaggles of cute fluffy duckling.  Several groups of delightful paradise (shelducks) duckling were being studiously protected by parents to the extent the male paradise duck would chase away duckling of more common species.  The miniature shelducks have colourings so different from the adults.  Finally we have excellent views of one of our river punts gliding downstream between river banks of bright green growth punctuated by splashes of spring blooms – another perfect activity for a Christchurch spring day.

So how about the new chum?  Going very well I thought.  I found him with a Japanese couple from Kyushu and a Sri Lankan family living in Hamilton.  Ken has already amassed an impressive wealth of useful botanical info and doing an excellent job enticing the people on board he pauses to chat to.  Maybe it’s that smile.  It’s his default facial expression.  He cannot help it.

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