Garden Three - 58 Thornton Road - Colleen & Peter Dromgool - The free range gardeners
Colleen & Peter Dromgool’s property in Thornton Road has been transformed. The pink concrete house built in 1923 is now an updated charcoal with modern extensions. The Dromgool’s purchased the property 4 years ago and have removed 63 trees that crowded the section so they could start with a blank canvas. They kept just one tree, an apple tree near the road.
This garden is “about foliage and fruit trees”. Colleen prefers group planting. This is obvious as you approach the house. There is a group of three Liquidambers, a slow-growing variety at the front. Across the front of the house are six Cornus ‘Eddies White Wonder’ which will be magnificent in the spring. Along the fence is a row of port wine magnolias and there are more at the back of the house. Colleen grows these for their heady perfume. “I just love it” she told us. Other plants at the front are various Pittosporum and some Westringia.
Down the west side of the house there is a pebble driveway flanked by Podocarpus gracilior, a medium-sized, slow growing tree that grows column-like and can be clipped. Interspersed are Lomandra ‘Little Pal’, the light-green compact and graceful Australian native grass. On the other side of the driveway are Chondropetalum elephantinum, or Large Cape Rush. When we visited, over the fence in the neighbours, there were some beautiful Michelias in full flower.
The east side of the house has a boardwalk down the length of the house leading to raised vegetable gardens surrounded by Hokey Pokey pebbles. Peter has built the raised gardens from macrocarpa sleepers. He drilled the holes to keep the nails straight. He fills the gardens with mushroom compost that he sources from Roach’s nursery in Schollum Road, on the way to Morrinsville.
Colleen confided that she is “not a gardener” and later corrected that saying she is “a free-range gardener”. She certainly has a flair for landscaping which I guess comes from her artistic ability. She moved from “up North” and said you can’t grow the same things here. She has moved around a lot and she always plants herbs first. She has oreganum, marjoram, thyme, parsley, mint, basil and even catmint for the cats. She told us that her father used to say, “the best flower is a cauliflower”.
There are plenty of fruit trees at the rear of the property. On a fence they have espaliered a plum, a nectarine and a Black Boy peach. There’s a black grape and a white one. They had masses of blueberries on their bushes last summer, beating the birds by covering the bushes. The Dromgool’s have a few citrus growing in pots.
Across the back there’s an olive tree hedge which hasn’t fruited yet and a Gay Baby camellia hedge on one side of the vegetable garden.
Peter and Colleen were very engaging, and it was hard to say good-bye.