Enter the garden under weeping pears and be drawn through a formal arbour to the heart of the garden, with Buxus hedging, elegant roses and grapevines cleverly looped to aged trellis.
Admire the robust trees planted when the garden was part of a chicken farm, leaving rich dark soil. Their spreading branches create dappled shade for hot summer days when one slips into a hammock with hat, book, and glass of something delicious.
Jan and Eric are developing the garden by softening it with edged plantings, encouraging espaliered Camellia with masses of white flowers. At ground level dark green Hosta and Bergenia turn their faces to the sun and sway gently in the breeze, making it alive, lush, and touchable. Hundreds of bulbs are waiting for the colder months to break through and bring vivid colour to the garden.
Nine years ago the garden consisted mainly of concrete paving. Eric and Jan have removed this and resown grass, adding Buxus and Corokia hedging and a variety of Azaleas and Rhododendrons. The effect is an oasis of form, texture, and colour. Their favourite plants being Viburnum, Cornus, Japanese Maples and all varieties of the Iris family. To encourage bees and birds to the garden they have cleverly integrated seed and nectar bearing plants.
At the rear of the house raised beds provide salad greens, ensuring healthy foods throughout the seasons. Eric has constructed a ‘berry house’, to stop greedy birds eating the plump berries. One is tempted to open the gate and pick an illicit mouthful of dark rich berries. But Eric cordially invites visitors to help themselves, no subterfuge needed.
Box Buxus stand as sentinels about the garden set in attractive pots, adding formality and colour.
While the Kowhai are flowering, Tui chatter and ‘wing rush’ fills the garden.
As you stroll under the curved arbour, beside carefully nurtured wildflower gardens, you enjoy the feeling you are in the country, and it surprises when leaving, to find you are in a suburb.
A visit to this peaceful haven is a must throughout the festival.
By Bronwen Byers