10 November 2015

Fothergills on Mimiha

29 October 2015


Gosh where do you start.....

Bev has a wealth of knowledge in the garden, a lot of it was passed down from her parents who where also keen gardeners, her mother was called 'quick draw McGraw' as she used to travel with secateurs in her pocket for a quick snip of a cutting here and there! They have been on the property for 50 years and the farm originally come up to the house but after raising the children and having a bit more time on her hands the garden has slowly travelled further and further into the farmland to become the magnificent and very productive garden you see today. You get a real sense of family history as you wonder around this garden. Bev tells of when the feijoa hedge was put in in the late 60's, the espaliered apple trees in the early 70's, all based on the years her children where born.

We started our wonder under the two 45 year old kiwifruit vines, past the quince tree, apple trees, passion fruit vine and the large feijoa hedge and a stroll thru her very productive vege patch, admiring her dutch blue sweet peas, which she eats the dark coloured pods before they set peas, even the flowers are edible. Bev likes to grow River View Ruby tomatoes they are a bit like the Roma variety but a lot more prolific fruiters. She had just had the long row of hassle nut trees trimmed back as they were shading the vege patch and had also never produced fruit.

Bev tries to section her garden into colour blocks, like the red lilies with white roses garden with the Red Robbin hedge as a background. The sunshine garden which is close to the house and has mainly yellow roses. There is a huge array of roses in the garden, climbing over pergola covered walk ways, to beds full of different varieties, intermingled with some stunning Clematis. 

Bev points out that Roses smell best in the morning as the oils begin to rise in them. Bev started a book back in 1994 with a list of all the roses, clematis and other plants in the garden, (far to many to remember the names off). In fact she has so many roses they start pruning them at the start of July and it takes them thru to mid August before they are done. They then move onto mulching them all. Bev's husband gets up early to spray the roses every 3 weeks with liquid copper and insecticide. Her tip for moving roses (as she does it quite a bit as other plants start to shade them out or encroach on their domain) is to reduce the top to the same size as the roots, take a large root ball and lots and lots of water.

Then up past her small potting shed full of seedlings, up to the second veggie patch which is closer to the house. Stopping to admire her Buddha's Hand citrus tree, with the crazy looking fruit, she only uses it for decoration in the fruit bowl, it's a good talking point. Up onto the deck where you can admire the view back out over the garden.  

Around at the front of the house and with the help of her gardener, they have been busy removing roses, as the trees grow, it becomes far to shaded for them and so they have been replacing them with rhododendrons. Mind you the very tall and thorny standardized rose Vigorosa is still there, as it is very hardy apparently. The front garden is mainly soft pinks and whites, with lots of annuals and azaleas. Except for a rather unusual looking edging plant that is yellow with purple flowers.

We wondered down a side path, that leads over a small stream, which comes down from a drain in the road, so off course Bev made the most of it and planted it up with canon lilies.

No one could identify a fruit hanging from a very large tree we stood under, turned out to be a custard apple, Bev saw them on a trip to Hawaii once, and it has been very successful. Our tour then took us out into an open field dotted with fruit trees and butter cups. Along to the pig pen. They get a new pig every 5 months or so, it helps to get rid of food scrapes and off course fill the freezer. We then stood in the shade of the dog wood tree and admired the little lake come large pond. They have a natural spring on the property which fills there water tanks and the over flow goes into the pond. 

Back up to the main part of the garden past the Seville orange tree, which is used purely for making marmalade. Amazingly Bev also finds time to make a great supply of jams, jelly, pickles and syrups which we purchased from her shop.

Thanks for letting us visit Bev it was a fantastic day.

16 October 2015

A Hidden Gem

24 September 2015

The original owners of this property gained their inspiration for the home from their time living in Portugal.  Mature trees including loads of Olive trees enabled this relatively new garden a mature look.

Four large blossoming trees greeted us first at the top of the long driveway, which were buzzing with the sound of busy bees.  Below, masses of green, white and purple hellebores bloomed.  New self seeded hellebores were spreading and popping up everywhere indicating that this really was the perfect environment for these happy hellebores.

Four apricot trees, with a large lillypilly hedge behind,  filled a curved garden bed that flanked one side of the property. Under the trees, the garden was filling quickly with the new spring growth of pink and white self seeded sage, larkspur, poppies, and hostas. 
Three beautiful old lemon trees laden with heavy fruit and native Renga Rengas below lead us through to "Mr McGregors garden"........

A huge lime tree carpeted with Orange Berry was the beginning of this abundant edible garden.  Seven cleverly crafted potager gardens filled the next corner.  Fresh herbs, bok choy, potatoes, lettuces, asparagus, broccoli and spinach filled the gardens.   Wooden framed chicken wire covers were built over each separate garden and were designed to slide on and off to enable these edibles the best chance of survival from local birds and insects and an even better chance of making it to the kitchen table.  Gravel pathways between the gardens don't allow for an easy meal for slippery slugs and snails.  Passionfruit vines climb up and around the large water tanks which irrigate these gardens. 

A large walk in "Berry berry nice" framed chicken wire house provides protection for a luxurious crop of berries.  Boysenberries, raspberries, blueberries, Chilean guavas and logan berries climbed the simple frames inside the house.  And of course no kiwi garden is really sufficient without a feijoa tree or two.  So this garden had a couple of these too. 

A large Grisilinea hedge framed the far end of "Mr McGregors garden" and a neat gravel path, bordered with a Corokia hedge lead us through to the pond. The pond was sheltered by a large well clipped hedge curving round one side and a block wall with viewing holes and beautifully crafted ironwork in the holes on the other.  Roses were planted neatly along the front of the wall.  Although the pond was a relatively new addition to this garden, it was already home to over 50 goldfish.  Purple irises grew alongside the pond and Mondo and water Lillys were starting to establish themselves in the pond. 

Towards the front corner of the home, lots of established Olive trees grew and were very fitting for its Portugese style.   Hellebores again were abundant under the olive trees.  Down a little path to the secret garden....  At the end of the path a well placed mirror led the imagination further.....  That is until the resident pheasant started having daily battles with himself.  The mirror looks slightly less the part now but is still fitting.  

Back up the path again, cobbles lead the way to a beautiful aqua blue pool.  Michelia Figo hedging surrounds the whole pool and a Weeping Pear sits gracefully beside it.  A sheltered courtyard with the most wonderful grand entertaining area nestles itself beautifully in next to the front of the home.  An outdoor fireplace with ivy trailing over enables long evenings along with shelter overhead and the half walls which surround a grand concrete table. Scented plants clambering over a wooden frame near the sitting area would smell wonderful in the evenings.  This really was a wonderful garden and an entertainers dream!!

30 August 2015

Fountain Gardens

Fountain Gardens
Plummers Point
Aug 27, 2015

This morning we visited Fountain Gardens in Plummers Point. The owner was unable to be there today (the friend who met us said she was very sorry to miss us) so we took a self-guided tour through the 3 acres of former dairy country tucked beneath Plummers Point Road. 

The garden is marketed as native, with a touch of the traditional and surprises around every corner. There are more than 30 unique water features, including a floating bridge, an Italian horse cascade statue and seven dwarves who make their home in a shallow pond.  The waterways are fed by four natural springs which, along with 60 tons of Hinuera Stone, form the basis of the landscaping within the property’s flagship gully.

The native gully looks magical as the brook gently wends its way towards the harbour and dappled light rains down through the trees. It’s presumably because of this gully of cascading pools that the property was formerly known as the Cascade Fountain Gardens. 
While the garden is mainly native, there are also cacti, silvery eucalypts and English-style wrought iron lamp-posts dotted throughout.

The Fountain Gardens website (www.fountaingardens.co.nz) says: “This garden has been created and tended through sheer passion and ingenuity, rather than by precise technical know-how – it is unpretentious, natural beauty offering romance, serenity and beauty.”   

The mix of styles gives this garden the feel of a passion project – a gardener’s love letter to the varied plants and sculptures which take the artist’s fancy. For me, most striking of all was the sky-high giant bamboo plantation, towering above the deck where weddings are held.
Special thanks to Megan C for organising the visit – despite the fact you could not make it. You’re a trooper! 

2 August 2015

Metlifecare Greenwood Park

July 2015

A small but enthusiastic posse of G3ers took a wander around Metlifecare Greenwood Park at the city end of Welcome Bay this morning. We were met by village manager Todd Jenkins who gave us some stats:

·         The village is about to celebrate 30 years and is New Zealand’s oldest independent living retirement village

·         The site was once a sloping block of clay and swamp, which has been planted and developed over the decades

·         There are 240 homes in the complex, with 350 residents. The youngest are 55.

Head gardener David Wilson took us along the manicured pathways. We started with a scented garden, planted especially for visually impaired residents. It is looking a bit scraggly, as David says scented gardens often do, so he’s starting to fill it in with other plants. There’s a buxus-edged formal garden near one of the putting greens, large drifts of poppies, and many large specimen trees – from the Australian baobab to the evergreen gordonia axillaris. David says about 20 percent of residents do their own gardening; the rest of it is done by David and his team of three gardeners. When homes become vacant, they are given a spruce up. Part of that involves ripping out the old garden and planting a garden which suits the new owners’ tastes and mobility. David showed us around a bare courtyard plot, formerly dense with camillas and fiddly rose gardens, which he was about to replant with lower-maintenance options.

The Quail Trail is a grove, planted predominantly by David, over the past 20 years. It starts with large timber steps, supported by a sturdy handrail, and meanders alongside the Kaitemako Stream. It passes through a swampy area planted with lovely willows and poplars, and sidlings and banks planted in sycamores, kowhai, maple and swamp cypresses. David says plants are bought from wholesalers from Palmerston North to Auckland, and he usually spends several hundred dollars each order. There are problems with possums, as evidenced by the apple-laced traps around the grounds, and pukeko stalking through the reeds around the stream.

There’s a massive pad of dirt that’s been built up and created entirely from compost. The pads is now used to collect compost which can be used around the grounds.

Pussy cats leap about in the shadows – flashes of much-loved fur out on adventures whilke their owners play croquet or do aqua aerobics.
At the end of the trail is the gardener’s shed. They don’t have a shade house but a well planted space, dominated by mature trees, does an excellent job of protecting plants yet to be dug in.
This is near where residents’ campervans are parked when not in use. And closeby is an allotment garden where residents can grow vegetables and make their own compost. There was an abundance of rhubarb and broad beans and perfectly-spaced wee strawberries under bird-proof netting.

We wandered back to our cars, passing villagers playing croquet on a perfect lawn on a perfect winter’s morning, and vowed to return on a summer’s day with more of our G3 buddies in tow.

9 June 2015

The Wedding Garden

28 May 2015

The Wedding Garden, Oropi
Joanna Debrowsky

Garden design Vicki garden mentors

Nestled up in the hills behind Tauranga is Joanna's ever evolving "semi formal"garden. With breathtaking views that lead you through from room to room, archways, vistas & trellis framed windows catch the eye & offer glimpses into the gardens beyond.

Joanna & her husband embarked on transforming the garden to host their daughters wedding in March, the site is sloping and multi levelled connected wonderfully by structures, trellis and archways.

Joanna enlisted the help of Vicki from Garden mentors to assist in the remodelling of the garden.  For those who have met Vicki Joanna's comment about the advice to just sit with a cup of tea in the garden resonated!

We commenced our autumn stroll at the rear off the property which is bordered by an array of boxed & raised vege gardens. The layout of which lends to a semi formal area whilst retaining a great lawn. The area was dug out 10 years ago to provide a level and very lived in backyard.  After several years of battling to keep a couch free lawn, Joanna has now given up and embraced the durable & functional nature it provides especially as the space has a very multifunctional life.

The use of potted strawberries, seats, art works and a climbing rose add interest and breaks to the structure; the centre piece is the washing line framed by large pavers with green mondo growing neatly between them.

We continue on past a lovely bicycle popped against a wall with covered with ivy & detailed with wrought iron to a swing sitting in a structured garden. Planted with standardised camellias, mini familia (quintessence) bordered with liriope & climbing rose behind.

We then turn the corner to a central archway with fairy camellia' espaliered each side leading through to a citrus grove to the left and a butterfly and bee garden to the right.

The butterfly garden is bursting with blues and purples and is more cottage garden in nature. Lavender, daisy, marjoram, status,tibischina, carnations to name a few. The garden is bordered by China pinks which then drops off to the levels below. In each corner grows a friendship salvia.
Back through the archway into the citrus grove with blood orange, kafir lime, tamarin love  & ruby fantasy mandavilla climbing in the corner.

The garden slopes down leading you under the tool archway a very clever use of old/antique implements past macrocarpa and Mexican orange blossom to a magnificent large lawn area (tennis court) bordered by corokia and conifers.
The area has been left open as a multifunctional use area the walls are detailed with grapevines espaliered & trained in shapes.

The stairway is central to the garden and leads you up through the various levels, the sides of which has ficus, orange blossom, buxus leading up to a central concrete water feature at the top. On one level leading to the left there is a vista of wisteria planted in varying shades of purple which at this stage all stand alone separately.

Gardens with star jasmine training up trellis & structural planting of buxus balls edged with liriope show the versatility of semi structure with a relaxed and changing seasonal flowers this coming spring poppy sand stock will fill the garden.

The gardens wind up around the house with a garden planned around alternating height and shape. featuring curly camillia, pittosporum golfballs. The pool is bordered by tropical plants and sits unobtrusively in the garden. Wild flowers and alstroemerias are on the opposite side of the pathway especially planted for the wedding bouquet.

Standardised ice berg roses under planted with silver lace & bordered by lavender lead down to the wisteria and along to the gazebo with fantastic central lighting.

The recent addition of a native garden to block the view from the drive was planted just weeks prior to our visit, the addition of camellias ties the garden to the existing and makes it look as though it has been there for much longer.

Joanna fertilises regularly with sheep pallets and rose manure, is not afraid to shift things and between her & her husband maintains the whole garden.

The garden has a wonderful feel and is like walking through a house with well thought out areas almost in the structure of outdoor rooms.
The structure alongside the changing seasonal planting and use of colour create a tranquil and inviting garden.
The garden may open for wedding ceremony's in the future.
We wish Joanna & her husband well with this future endeavour.


6 May 2015

Permaculture Visit

Recently I planted bulbs in clumps so that come Spring there will be intense bursts of colour in my garden. Not only this I have been staggering the planting over a few weekends so that they will flower at different times therefore I will have a curated programme of flowering bulbs. I’m a gardener - I turn soil, fertilize from my worm farm, weed and turn the sprinkler on in the summer to provide water when rain does not. After visiting a permaculture garden this week I’m starting to wonder if I’m making life a bit hard for myself and if there’s a simpler more sustainable way…

This week G3 were challenged to rethink how we work with nature in the garden. We visited Christine’s garden in Whakamaramara which had been designed applying permaculture principles. And we were joined by Catherine Dunton-McLeod, a local permaculture guru. To start Christine explained that permaculture was ‘permanent agriculture, it entailed developing agricultural ecosystems intended to be sustainable and self-sufficient’. So what did this mean in relation to her garden design?

Christine purchased her north facing elevated property with views out to the sea, 4 years earlier. It had looked like your usual property with a camellia border, some fruit trees, a stand of native trees at the rear and lots of lawn. Christine has twin boys and like most of us spent a lot of time and money at the supermarket for her food.

She decided that she wanted to live more sustainably, affordably and eliminate her waste. She undertook a permaculture design course and started participating in Permabiltz’s (more on this later). Through these much research, she developed a design for her garden that set about achieving her goal of sustainability. Here’s what we saw:

As you approached the property from the driveway the first garden showcased  some lovely sculptures surrounded by a number of flowering plants including marigolds, barley, herbs and weeds. Yes weeds – Christine is a fan of Julia Edible Weeds philosophy and is actively growing weeds for nutrient dense smoothies. An overgrown mess? No very pretty, when left to its own devices nature doesn’t garden in rows nor straight lines. 

Directly off the deck near to the front of the house was her pick-n-eat garden (herbs, leeks, lettuce, spring onions etc). Previously lawn, she had developed it by layering cardboard with straw, followed by compost into which she plated her veggies and added pea-straw on top as mulch (lasagne gardening). She discussed how she doesn’t fertilize nor spray her garden, instead she lets nature provide the sources through companion planting such as comfrey to provide nitrogen the chopped leaves providing fertilizer and French marigolds grow to detract white fly. Next we walked around to the side of house where the property sloped down towards the boundary. There we  saw:

A vege garden that applied the 3-sisters idea of planting 3 crops closely together. Christine had planted corn, waited a while and then added beans which had grown up the stem of the corn, along with pumpkins growing out horizontally. Again comfrey grew in abundance providing nitrogen to the soil.

Off the side of the house Christine discussed her plans for a glasshouse which would include pipes where water would be heated by the sun and then flow into her house providing no-cost warm water. 

Near to the house was the chicken coop which had been moved there for the winter so the 3 chooks could get more sun. Here they happily lived on scraps from the kitchen, whilst scratching up the ground in preparation for when Christine wished to plant it. The chooks provided enough eggs to feed Christine/s family along with extras to trade with friends.

Sloping down the property away from the house were a series of raised beds. Christine explained that these were swales – a design feature that allowed the water from her roof to be piped to the swales were it ran along the beds keeping the plants watered, even during summer - yes not sprinkler required! Here amongst the swales Christine had her food forest. A food forest works on the idea of replicating a forest in nature which has 7 layers starting with your soil at the bottom, lower trees, shrubs, climbers etc and finishing with the tree canopy at the top. Here she grew a variety of plants including lemonade, lime, pomegranate, plum, nectarine, pear, apple, fig, fejoa and so on. Each were part of her permaculture plan (see later). It was here that we came across tagasaste  - an important nitrogen fixing tree. At the base of the raised beds clover (more nitrogen) and other weeds grew. Christine said she only now weeded grass, milkweed and nightshade. Some weeds she would chop and drop to return the nutrients to the soil. 

So how did Christine achieve all of this? As I mentioned she attended a permablitz programme. This is a programme where you learn about permaculture gardening through working on 3 gardens that are blitzed. In return you then become eligible to have your garden blitzed. You work with a designer to come up with a plan for your site and then the crew come along over a weekend and work on your property, for Christine this was to install the swales. For more information visit http://permablitzbopnz.net.

She also did the 1year cert in permaculture offered by Catherine and her husband. http://www.plentypermaculture.co.nz

Other sources for information, sharing and exchange that Christine and Catherine discussed were:
Fukuoka http://www.permaculture.com/node/140
Tree Croppers - http://www.treecrops.org.nz
Rick Austin The Survivalist Garden - http://www.secretgardenofsurvival.com/
Out of our backyard http://ooooby.ning.com/group/tauranga

Many thanks to Christine and Catherine for a very thought provoking and inspiring morning.


Catherine's property

6 April 2015

Garden Centre Visit

Palmers Garden Centre
Welcome Bay

26 March 2015

G3 visit was to Palmers Garden Centre, on the Welcome Bay roundabout in Tauranga. This garden centre happily gives talks, might I add, at no cost, on anything you like. They are also very keen to be involved in schools, working with children and seeing the enjoyment they get from planting a thing or two!

Thank you to all that came. This little garden centre changed hands 3 or 4 years ago and the new owners have done an amazing job to bring it back to life.

There are a number of knowledgeable people there to help, in particular Darren and Alan. Darren was away but if you are wanting the more technical, perhaps scientific side to gardening he is the man you want. So today we had Alan share a few of his life experiences, personal interests and answer a number of questions that we fired at him!

Alan is self taught/learnt through many years of experience here and overseas.
He spent a number of years  working in the U.K in gardening centres, turfing companies and landscaping. He has seen many different sorts of garden, from your massive English garden to apartment living. Alans' particular interest/passion at present is organics. He reminds us to be very wary of any sprays we use. That there are alternative products out there, Neam is one, and if used correctly they will do the job. He says prevention is the key rather than waiting for the damage to appear. Spraying in winter before eggs are laid. Don't forget all these new varieties of dwarf fruit trees says Alan, they can be used in many areas of the garden and you get something back from them, nothing like walking out the back door to collect a plum for breaky. 

Do your homework/research, think and plan! You need to remember to feed and look after these trees as you would yourself, especially if you live in the suburbs where land nutrients may not be as plentiful. Liquid feed not granules. Make sure they are open, regular pruning to allow for air flow, especially for citrus along with magnesium and lots of nitrogen. Beware of chicken and horse compost, where you are putting it as it often comes with weeds of course! 

Alan suggested you could first put it in your compost bin where the heat that is produced will kill the seeds! Think about creating longer fruiting seasons by planting a variety of varieties of plants e.g blueberries, different varieties fruit at slightly different times. Take fruit off in the first two years of fruiting…if that's too hard maybe leave one or two on! This then leaves the nutrients for the growth of the tree.

Pruning throughout the garden can be done at anytime really. There is a new thought now that the best time is during summer, when trees are at their healthiest opposed to being done when they are dormant. This also goes for transplanting, mind if it is done in the hight of summer you must remember to water!

Copper spraying for fungus bacteria can be done in August before leaf burst or with no leaves not when plant has new leaves.

These were a few points I picked up during Alans' interesting, helpful, enjoyable talk!  You may need to nip back if I have missed things.

We finished off  with a good coffee (of course some of us added a sweet to that) from the centres very friendly relaxing cafe.