Inspiring images Ghost allium. Image: Nicola PyeAllium siculum, an ornamental and culinary plant. Increasingly we use plants other than just vegetables, like this the “Sicilian honey garlic plant”, in cooking or for medicine. Nurturing edible plants in towns is a useful way of reconnecting people with nature – a small and healthy step back from being solely a hunter gatherer in supermarkets! Kā ora te whenua, kā ora te tangata!Moths in the spotlight. Image: Noelle BennettA pair of common blue butterflies (Zizina otis labradus) mating. The common blue butterfly is one of 46 species of butterflies that breed in Aotearoa New Zealand. It may have been blown here, or it accidentally hitched a ride in turf imported from Australia. A few high-performing newcomers often displace native species – a terrifying global game of ecological space invaders.Pōhutukawa perfection. Image: Noelle BennettPōhutukawa (Metrosideros excelsa), Waikawa. Pōhutukawa, the “New Zealand Christmas Tree”, is endemic to Aotearoa – it occurs nowhere else and is part of us all as Kiwis. This oldest pōhutukawa, Te Waha o Rerekohu, is 600 years old and 20m tall. The tree is tapu (sacred). Many trees in towns are protected because they are part of our sense of home and connection with nature.Fungi family dynamics. Image: Noelle BennettHare’s foot inkcap (Coprinopsis lagopus). Without fungi, there would be no soil to grow food. Vast networks of mycelia, the thread-like structures of underground fungi, pass nutrients and water to plants in return for receiving sugars. This enables trees to exchange “messages” and nutrients between each other, so a forest functions as a gigantic “super-organism”.Woolly birds nest fungi. Image: Noelle BennettWoolly bird’s nest fungus (Nidula niveomentosa). Bird’s nest fungi are “decomposers”, the great recyclers that keep the world going. Without them dead plants would heap up everywhere, and their nutrients would not be broken down to feed plants and animals coming after them. Raindrops hitting the splash bucket (the “bird’s nest”) propel the spore packet (“egg”) up to 3 m from the nest.Eye of the hunter. Image: Paul SorrellSouth Island tomtit hunting, Orokonui Ecosanctuary. Tomtits escape predation by rats and stoats within fenced reserves like Orokonui Ecosanctuary, near Dunedin. Reserves counter the problem of “sinking baselines” where we begin to accept the depleted ecosystems as “normal” rather than damaged. “Spill-over” from the reserves will one day return birds like tomtits to our backyards.