One garden, two houses, some lessons from the past and hope for the future. A look at life in New Zealand, a bit of history and a Morris jig or two.
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My Favourite Window
September 9, 2011
No school today: the sun shining and spring blooming. "Let's show the children Pegasus Bay," says my sister. She means the winery, not the great bight where the Pacific Ocean laps the coast between Kaikoura and Christchurch.
And really, it is the garden we are interested in today. The wine is memorable and the best Pinot Noir I've tasted came from here, but for a gardener with an interest in history and design, this is one of New Zealand's truly inspirational gardens. In spite of the Old World feel evoked by the use of traditional garden elements, and features such as the re-claimed village fountain and the chateau-esque winery the place feels grounded in the North Canterbury of my childhood. Before there were vineyards and olive groves there were sheep farms; the homesteads sited out of the prevailing winds, or sheltered by
plantings of macropcarpa and pine.
And always there was water: a creek, a pond, and that special haunt of children The Gully. It's all here, but not only have the cosmopolitan owners brought an international flavour to the garden, they are also ensuring that it honours the deep past, with indigenous plantings and inducements, such as the lizard motel, shown right, to encourage native wildlife; as well as reference to ancestral tangata whenua, the people of the land.
I asked the children what they thought of the garden:
Kitty liked all the mysterious paths
Rowan, whose early years were spent in Leamington Spa, and who was certainly exposed to some of Britain's great gardens, marvelled through the eyes of a 13 year old, that you'd never see anything like this in England. I could hear him exclaiming with delight as he made his way around the place, and he told me that he liked the archways and the way that paths were closed in on each side. "It's so beautiful." Is how he summed up his feelings.
Bryony felt that it was uncontrived and in the language of a 17 year old, expressed her appreciation that it was not a try-hard garden.
But for all my own admiration of concept, and horticultural excellence and attention to detail, seeing signs of the actuality of gardening always gives me the greatest pleasure; and that actuality today, was watching the gardener at work...