Pohutukawa versus View

Pohutukawa versus View

The Pohutukawa tree is New Zealand’s Christmas tree, due to the colour of its spectacular flowers.

Pohutukawa flower

We have one in front of our house and love it, even though it blocked our view and sheds lots of allergenic stuff. I think it’s about 50 years old. You can see our tree here to the left in this view from the street.

Seventeen years ago we started out upon a 30 year plan to preserve both the tree and our view.  The arborists transformed the tree from its spherical shape to a hemisphere, like a  wine glass. But they left a dozen or so small stems in the upper section. At the time it looked quite ridiculous, a strange “poodle tree”. Eventually those stems grew, as you can see in this photograph taken nine years ago.


The idea was to gradually remove limbs and foliage from the lower section, as the upper section grew. In the process we would have a small window through which to enjoy our view. Eventually we would be able to look out under the “lifted” tree.

The plan seemed to be working and the tree was thriving, providing spectacular colours from mid-December.

Pohutukawa flowers



The flowers also attracted birds, like this silvereye (and recently a pair of tui which I have not yet managed to photograph).


Here’s a closeup of the buds:

Pohutukawa flower

This year however, when it was time for another trim, a new arborist poured cold water on our plan. He felt that the remaining stems were too slender and would leave the tree prone to wind damage. You do see Pohutukawa with that form, but always in a grove where they offer protection for each other. So, very reluctantly, we reversed our plan. The top would be removed, leaving the bottom half.

The tree surgeon was a very sensitive young guy from Colombia. He worked his way carefully around the tree using a hand saw for most of his work (” my chainsaw is so noisy!”).


In no time we had a new tree, this time shaped more like a parfait glass than a wine glass:

Tasman Bay

In a few months we’ll see how well the tree has coped, whether we get lots of flowers. So far it’s looking promising. In the meantime, we’ve certainly got our view back!

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