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Saturday, 10 February 2018

Two heroic gardens

I escaped West Auckland with gardening friend Louise today to visit two heroic gardens in this years festival. One was in One Tree Hill and the other in Mt Eden on Landscape Road. There were no Westie gardens this time around but maybe next year?

The rain had turned into drizzle yet Louise was not put off. I ummed and ahhed but then since I was driving put my A into G and we headed off down the motorway armed with umbrellas and donning parkas and boots. We arrived in Onehunga on the other side of One Tree Hill (that now has no tree) to spectacular hillside home that had a terrace garden all planted up, with succulents and perennials, and a front yard with dwarf peach trees (note to self- I can have fruit trees that are no taller than the house!) animal shaped buxus topiaries, and a small backyard productive vege garden. There were planters hanging from the walls with herbs and veges, a round garden with vanilla ice sunflowers edged in alyssum, and every square inch was taken up with herbaceous plants. The tiny backyard also fit in a glasshouse, worm farm, compost and rainwater harvester. There were veges right under the collapsible washing line.

We noticed some unusual plants - seaholly that has vibrant blue stems, scotch thistle, shoofly, a herb that repels whitefly, and colourful succulents. A real plantlovers garden with a view to the Manukau harbour. On a clear day! Mother and daughter team had devoted 12 years to this garden which when they first arrived had nothing but bare lawn, a bird of paradise and a camellia. It's impressive, lovely and interesting. Well done.

Our second garden was more of a curiosity than for gardening interest as it boasted a lava cave on the property. To enter this lava cave we wandered through a balinese style subtropical garden (mind the Buddha heads!) under chinese fan palms, fringed with aurelias and edged with vibrant bromeliads. Other plants of interest included parataniwha a purple leaved foliage plant, tree aloes, and purple tibouchinia. There were several water features, a large fish pond, mosaic bird baths, and a swimming pool and backyard entertaining area. The lava cave went right underneath the next door neighbours house and ran for several hundred metres, a dry subterranean cavern. No glow worms but there were maidenhair ferns at the entrance where they could find moisture. Am not sure how the owners managed to deal with having a huge hole in their property and gardening on volcanic rock but those bromeliads are pretty tough plants that can grow perched on trees- they don't need soil. And their fan palms were ginormous - towering over the home. It was like entering another world.

The festival is still on tomorrow so for a day out (maybe the sun will shine again?) check out some Heroic Gardens  it's all raising money for Mercy Hospice. There are so many unique gardens in Auckland all lovingly cared for and planted by their owners thank you for sharing them and allowing us to peek over the fence and thankfully, unlike real estate open homes you know have just been tarted up for a quick sale at auction these gardens are NOT for sale and will continue to be looked after by their owners for many years to come.