Juliet Coleman’s garden in French Pass Road is such a contrast to the two small town gardens I had visited recently. In two words, huge, impressive.
Ailsa and I were met by Juliet and her gorgeous, friendly poodle-spaniel Maisie and we were immediately invited in for coffee. The first thing we see as we walk to the front door is Hellebores in a mass planting. This will be a fabulous display in a few weeks. Juliet says she a love-hate relationship with Hellebores. They look beautiful when good, then they can look tatty.
Juliet has not been here long. The basis of the house was a bungalow moved from Hinuera and her husband has clearly rebuilt and extended the house. Juliet does interior design and the house was also just so impressive. But this should be about the garden, not the house.
Juliet’s Mum was a keen gardener and she picked up her interest and passion through her. Juliet says she loves planting trees and seeing it all come together. She says she sees an idea in her head, and it works. She has learnt through her mistakes. She thinks a garden is a lot more forgiving to your mistakes.
Her friend Deb did the initial landscape design but it has had lots of tweaking. The garden is part formal and she has a potager garden at the back. Juliet likes planting en masse and her idea is low maintenance. She likes the idea of pretty flowers but not needing to be out in the garden every day.
The garden has large sweeping lawns and organic, rounded gardens. Gardening here has not been easy. It is on a clay plate and so Juliet has had to build it up with topsoil and mushroom compost. In the meantime, she has lost lots of plants.
Her approach has been to spray paint an outline of the garden and then rotary hoed it. She has brought soil in and mounded the gardens up. The little rises in the garden were done for drainage but they do add interest.
Juliet has numerous Cercis (Forest Pansy) trees of different green, white, pink and purple varieties. There are five Gumball maples, still with their beautiful autumn foliage. Lots of ornamental grasses. Griselinia hedges run around and through the garden.
Juliet is training six Silver Birches over a large archway. This is going to be wonderful.
Juliet loves the Dietes or Moraea that she has planted under a window. Also on the house is an espaliered apricot. There are a number of apple trees in the garden and a wide range of fruit trees in the “small” orchard. Up the driveway are evergreen alders interspersed with Fagus sylvatica along the fenceline. The potager garden is very tidy raised gardens surrounded by pebbles with several plums and a feijoa hedge, a pear over an archway and a group of olives. There are pleached Hornbeam around the garden. Back around to the front of the house and we see the Portuguese laurel standards (Prunus lusitanica) lining the path.
A huge amount of work and thought has gone into this garden. It is most impressive.
By Don Wilson