Kerole's Rambles

A Gardener of Disrepair
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Taupaki, New Zealand

Kerole's Rambles

1 Dec '11 5:27 pm
I often take trips to public gardens so I thought I'd take you along with me.

The Auckland Zoo is one of my favourite places to visit - being an animal nutter it is no suprise! It's not exactly a garden but the whole place has been beautifully landscaped and planted. A great deal of efffort has gone into it over many many years. Gone are the dreary concrete enclosures and cages. The animals roam in large, naturalistic areas with viewing platforms and peepholes for the punters. It is a truly magical place.

One area I always look forward to is a tiny, out of the way, wee Japanese garden. It is off the beaten track (somewhere between the Maras and Kangaroos). It was gifted to the zoo by visiting Japanese dignitaries and is a little jewel of tranquility.

I love the massive chunk of stone used as a bridge over cool inky water with koi. Utterly charming.
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A Gardener of Disrepair
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Taupaki, New Zealand


13 Jan '12 8:51 am
This is a photo-less post I'm afraid. And for good reason too...

Mincher is a garden of National Significance located not far from me. It is always getting big write-ups in garden and lifestyle magazines. I have been busting a gut trying to visit it!

Over the Christmas break I took my family to see it. My elderly father, mum, Ian, and the kids. I just couldn't wait! The oldest part of the garden is only 16 years old - it was a market gardens and orchard in a past life. It is described as a large, rambling, semi-formal country garden with formal elements, extensive ponds, and a bushland area. It is 12 acreas of well-tended garden - I couldn't wait!

The drive in was impressive - a massively wide sealed highway lined with mature chestnuts and stripy lawns. Unexpectedly we were given a golf cart for my Dad to drive. What a generous and kind thing to do! The kids and their grandad had a ball tootling all over MIncher in their cart. I guess therein lies a clue - the fact that you could drive all through the garden in a biggish golf cart... intimate, this garden is not.

We walked and walked and walked. There were many huge ponds lined with the same plants as the one before. There were dozens of lawned areas all striped and weed-free. The paths were miles and miles of uncompromising, small-gauge grey grit, same width, same colour. There was a round area encircled by tall clipped Hornbeams with a narrowish winding alley that came off it, all done in the same dark green Hornbeams. But what was the point? There was nothing in the circular area, no seats or fountain or art, and the alley (divine though it was) did not take you anywhere. You emerged straight onto yet another stretch of crunchy grey grit across yet another immaculate lawn...

The best bits were the cottage garden area that engulfed the 'Gardener's Cottage' a twee, brick, pseudo-cute dwelling. Too new, and overly large and tidy to be quaint but beautifully made with very nice embellishments and attention to detail. The garden had completely run amok. It was a shambles of cottagey loveliness, smelly old roses clambered up walls, lupins, delphiniums, clove-scented carnations jostled for space amongst gladdies and daisies, star jasmine threatened to collapse the white picket fence. You could no longer see where to put your feet, the brick paths long since swallowed whole by the self-seeded herbs and pansies. Chickens clucked busily. It was extrordinary!

I really wanted to be wowed by this garden. Sadly it fell far short of that. It lacked any sense of continuity or purpose. There was not enough variation between garden areas, not enough to keep you guessing. No wow moments when you come 'round a corner and go 'WOW! I want that!' There were no variations in gradients, no steps or hillocks, or sunken areas. No tight paths to navigate. It was the type of garden that could have carried a lot of art - vast sculptures and quirky installations - but there were none. Not one. Anywhere. It was all very samey.

I had my camera but kept waiting for a decent photo opportunity. In the end I put my camera away.

It cost us $60 to visit, and I left a bit bewildered and underwhelmed. The people were so incredibly nice. Helpful, funny, chatty, and kind. I would have enjoyed the visit if it only included a coffee in the gorgeous cottage courtyard with these people.

head gardener
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Re: Kerole's Rambles

15 Jan '12 8:38 am
Kerole, This is a brilliant and insightful story about your garden visit. It's as if you were searching for the real gardener who did the garden things, and couldn't find him or her. I totally understand about taking no photos. Yet I know that the place would have been quite beautiful, with lots of lovely spots. Gardens have to speak out, don't they?

Unless they are in England and are National Trust Gardens. Then one knows what one is going to see, and can enjoy without searching for anything.
Cheers, M
Head Gardener

A Gardener of Disrepair
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Taupaki, New Zealand

Re: Kerole's Rambles

15 Jan '12 1:38 pm
I'm pleased you understood where I was coming from Moosey. I felt a bit mean and ungratious (sp?) writing about it the way I did.

But I think it's important to say the good with the bad. This is a large fancy garden that by all accounts should have been breath-taking. It just goes to show you that no amount of effort, dollars, and undergardeners (real paid ones!) guarantees an amazing garden.

A garden needs HEART.

jack two
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The new improved Jack Holloway v.2

Re: Kerole's Rambles

25 Jan '12 12:55 am
An interesting read, Kerole! Heart and soul!

A Gardener of Disrepair
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Taupaki, New Zealand

Bach Track

14 Feb '12 9:57 am
My family owns a bach along the wild West coast of the Coromandel Peninsula. It is a simple rustic log cabin in a bushland setting with gorgeous views of the coast and Northland in the distance. As I child I spent my holidays here, exploring the bush and creeks and beach. Idyllic? Yes indeed!

For all the time I have spent here I have taken few photos. I'm not sure why. Anyway, last month we were staying here and I finally took some snaps of the track that runs up a bushland valley into the hills of the Coromandel. This little path meanders for many tens of miles, becoming nothing more than a tiny straggly little track, unmarked and unpenetrable to all but the keenest hiker.

It has been labelled Ted's Track by a self-important local git named Ted.
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The view overhead is of towering tree ferns (native name is Ponga - pronounced punga). Majestic things!
Ferns reign supreme...
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Native Dianella nigra with glossy stiff arched leaves...
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... and the most amazing blue/purple berries.
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One of numerous native Coprosmas (rhamnoides perhaps?) with the tiniest thin stems and leaves all criss-crossed into a ball shape. Topiarists dream plants!

A Gardener of Disrepair
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Taupaki, New Zealand

Barr Cottage

20 Feb '12 9:19 am
My family and I had the real pleasure of staying a few nights at Barr Cottage in a little secluded bay known as Little Huia (HOO-ee-ah). It's not very far from where we live but it feels a million miles away.

It is a place that time forgot. A bunch of 1920s cottages lined up along the water front, backed by an almost vertical hill of bush. Barr cottage is as it was 90 years ago. A sturdy, snug, low-slung wooden cottage with a picket fence and gate. The unsealed road deviates around the broad girth of a venerable ancient Pohutukawa tree (Metrocideros excelsa). The garden is a weird mix of cottage and seaside hardies, alongside natives such as towering Nikau palms (Rhopalostylis sapida). The delightfully overgrown orchard has peaches and apples all heavy with fruit, and a ramshackle chook coop at the rear. There is a very cute smoke house out the back too.

We had a very happy and restful stay at this gem of a place. We will certainly come back, perhaps in winter when the wood stove is burning and the stormy weather is crashing in from the sea.

Canberra, Australia

Re: Kerole's Rambles

20 Feb '12 11:40 pm
Beautiful! :)
I didn't know you have dianellas in New Zealand too.

A Gardener of Disrepair
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Taupaki, New Zealand

Silverdale Historic Settlement

24 Feb '12 11:46 am
As we are a family of old house nutters we often stop to meander through historic homesteads and such like. This little settlement is a bunch of old cottages collected from Silverdale as the light industrial district grew and overtook the small township. It is beautifully laid out with sweeping lawns and pathways that lead you from building to building, each one lovingly restored and furnished as it was 100 years ago. There's a blacksmithery, post office, tiny school, and even tinier church. The gardens are old fashioned and rambling. Just my kinda thing!

All of it is maintained by a bevvy of volunteers.
Methodist Parsonage and entry coutyard.
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The smell of the old fashioned roses was powerful and evocative...
entry rose.JPG
geranium seat.JPG
The mad pelargoniums had climbed the trellis behind the seat.
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This old oak gave some welcome shade.
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The old water pump (and my mum).
Red carpet roses and the purple climber Veilchenblau.
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More roses around the sign post.
Veilchenblau looking lovely as it grows over a doorway.
Even the toilets were cute!

Canberra, Australia

Re: Kerole's Rambles

24 Feb '12 4:39 pm


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