Kerole's Rambles


MacFlax
member
Canberra, Australia

Re: Kerole's Rambles

15 Jan '13 11:21 pm
Absolutely gorgeous Kerole. :)

Kerole
A Gardener of Disrepair
User avatar
Taupaki, New Zealand

Rapaura Gardens

27 Jan '13 5:37 pm
I have just come back from a couple of days at our bach in Coromandel, staying with Ian, the undergardeners, and my parents. We were fortunate to find a few minutes to sneak in a trip to Rapaura Gardens which is not too far up the road.

Rapaura is 10 acres of garden pick-axed out of the foothills of steep bushland. In total it is 40 acres but much comprises pristine rejuvenated bush and bush tracks. It began 40 years ago with large expanses of lawns with huge ponds and water features. This part of the garden is well established and is planted with gazillions of water lilies, tough ground covers and other herbacious shrubs and perennials. It has a slightly hippie-chic feel with a lot of moss and lichen and windy-turny paths with simple Asian-inspired, medatative type sculptures.

You then pass into the open water gardens area of massive ponds and extensive mown grassed areas. Beyond this a couple of gorgeous bridges (no two bridges are the same at Rapaura) which take you past a vege garden and chicken coop that looks like a racing stables (racing chooks?). All the time the bush looms high all around. Another bridge or two and the paths narrow and you find yourself in the coolness of the bush with burbling creeks and ferns. You don't even notice that the track has become gruesomely steep (until your knees begin to scream!), steps and stairs of all types, hand rails where necessary, glimpes through the bush across ravines etc. One last boardwalk high above a drop-off, a scramble over big boulders and OH HOLY! the most amazing HUGE waterfall. A series of wide-lipped pools overflow into an inky (and very cold!) swimming pond, all made by nature in a vast smooth natural stone water feature.

New Zealand bush has no colour to speak of - no splashes of bright tropical flowers, no parrot-coloured birds in the trees. It is a tapestry of greens and browns and the black of tree fern trunks. It takes your eye a bit of time to become acustomed but then you begin to appreciate all the fabulous textures. I've tries to capture some of this but I fell well short of the real thing.

This is an odd garden, a weirdly unhinged mix of traditional, zen, water pond, and native bush walk. It makes no sense at all yet it delights at every turn. No landscaper could ever have drawn this up on paper! Not to mention it has cute visitor accomodation tucked into its own private garden and a lovely cafe too. I highly recommend it to anyone visiting this neck of the woods.
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Kerole
A Gardener of Disrepair
User avatar
Taupaki, New Zealand

Rapaua Garden Cont...

27 Jan '13 6:20 pm
And into the cool shady bush we go...
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Nikau palms have the best textures!
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Someone's been a bit tricky here!

moosey
head gardener
User avatar

Re: Kerole's Rambles

27 Jan '13 6:39 pm
Kerole, these green pictures are amazing! Wow! I love your commentary, too. A real garden writer! Thanks so much for taking me with you, so to speak. Cheers, M
Head Gardener
mooseyscountrygarden.com
http://www.mooseyscountrygarden.com

MacFlax
member
Canberra, Australia

Re: Kerole's Rambles

27 Jan '13 7:59 pm
Beautiful! :)

Kerole
A Gardener of Disrepair
User avatar
Taupaki, New Zealand

Re: Kerole's Rambles

27 Jan '13 10:22 pm
Moosey my dear you flatter me - it'd be a more convincing read if it wasn't full of spelling and grammar errors!

Regardless, you are very welcome to come along on my rambles...

Kerole
A Gardener of Disrepair
User avatar
Taupaki, New Zealand

Ayrlies

5 Dec '13 12:12 am
Crikey, why have I let this thread get so left behind? I have visited several gardens since my last post and I will try to post about some of these in due course, but I am busting at the seams to write about my experiences at Ayrlies.

Ayrlies - what's left to say about this garden and her visonary owner/gardner Bev O'Connell? This is arguably New Zealand's best private garden. It has featured in every NZ TV gardening program and magazine many times over. Bev is sought after as a speaker for fund-raisers and various working bees nationwide. She and her garden are living treasures.

Ayrlies is the large private garden of a much larger tract of farm land that Bev and her late husband tended. After his death Bev split most of the farm off and concentrated on extending and beautifying her extensive garden, as well as incorporating a massive rejuvenating wetland that she has since gifted to a national scheme. It has been her love and passion for 50 years. Her head gardener has been with her for the last 30 years. She is very hands-on, rolling up her sleeves and get into the hard work.

Although this garden is on my doorstep so-to-speak, being in the South Auckland district of Whitford (a wealthy horsey area full of mansions boasting infinty pools and H-pads), I have struggled to find an opportunity to visit it. The main problem was that children are not allowed. This puts a dampener on things for me, as I love to take my undergardeners to places like this. But a recent weekend found my mother and I pack a picnic lunch and head off with great excitement.

The time had come to visit Ayrlies...

My first and most lasting impression was that this is not an overly-managed, primped, just-so kind of garden. It is HUGE (10 acres not including the wetlands) and posseses a rambling informality that is immediately relaxing and welcoming. At no point did I feel overwhelmed. There are pockets of formal plantings, numerous gorgeous ponds with rustic bridges, pergolas, benches, and arches. There is a lovely meadow with blossoming fruit trees and mowed paths, vast expanses of rough-mown parkland with specimen trees and views into surrounding farmland, and an abundance of interesting, winding pathways that keep you thirsting for more. Much of it is on a slope, in place quite steep. No apologies have been made for the sometimes dodgy footing which in places would have proved a challenge for some of the elderly folk that frequent the place by the busload.

Needless to say a garden like Ayrlies does not get these accolades by being ordinary. It is anything but. However the most lasting thing that I take away from my visit is Bev's use of plants and planting combinations. The plants were quite everyday things, found in most garden stores, and indeed in most gardens but her use of them was inspired. A gorgeous blend of foliage, texture and flowers forming colour echoes throught a scheme.

Rather than leaving despondent and out of my depth, I came away feeling that anything was possible. Even her structures looked do-able. I am inspired. I am invigorated. I am grateful for having the opportunity to meet the woman behind this amazing garden. She was gracious, funny, and generous, thrusting great clumps of Louisiana irises into plastic bags for me. What a gem. I will visit again in a heartbeat.

Of course my writing and photos do not do this place justice.
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A simple sign and road frontage gives no clue as the glory that lies beyond.
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Me trying to get my bearings by reading the map in one of the few formal areas.
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'Julia's Rose' the most divine antique parchment colour I've ever seen, with clever colour echoes throughout the bed. Rose write ups say it's fussy and weak but you'll buy it anyway because of it's sheer beauty!
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'Julia's Rose' - needless to say, I have been seduced!
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Formal statuary was uncommon, but the few pieces used were placed perfectly.
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This creamy lemon rambler had swallowed the pergola above a bench seat.
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Kerole
A Gardener of Disrepair
User avatar
Taupaki, New Zealand

More...

5 Dec '13 12:20 am
More.
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Kerole
A Gardener of Disrepair
User avatar
Taupaki, New Zealand

A Few More...

5 Dec '13 12:25 am
Last ones.
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These are knobs of the roots from swamp cypress trees.
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Bev O'Connell.
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Giving me bags full of irises.

moosey
head gardener
User avatar

Re: Kerole's Rambles

5 Dec '13 9:03 pm
Oh wow! I just love this garden, and I must, must, must come up and see it. It looks amazing. I've heard of it, obviously, but haven't organised myself to visit. Must do. Must do. Thanks so much for posting. Cheers, M
Head Gardener
mooseyscountrygarden.com
http://www.mooseyscountrygarden.com

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