Thursday, 22 March 2018

Up to Matakana

First stop at Matakana was a cliffside garden called Omaio which sadly we did not stay in but you can - it's a bed and breakfast log cabin and a perfect hideaway place amongst the bush. Liz tells us when she first arrived the property was nothing but paddock and a few trees. Well 12 years later it's a lush, secret nook with towering manuka, kowhai, puriri, totara and kauri trees. You walk along mulched paths amongst the ferns, clivias, ligularias, bergenias and hydrangeas, along Jane's Lane  and come out to Johny's Deck overlooking the Tawharahui Peninsula. Further on deeper into the forest you come across some giant footprints...but don't be alarmed it's only Big Bird aka NZ's giant moa. She won't eat you because she's made of driftwood and quite petrified already. She's guarding a nest of eggs that look like they haven't been hatched yet though...

Omaio means peace and tranquility and I certainly get the relaxed atmosphere of the place. There's a tennis court for leisure and an outdoor fireplace for cosy get togethers, planted with rosemary and bay trees and greenery. The view to the harbour is stunning. It's not a contrived garden, it's very naturalistic and you would think it's been here for years. Some of it's actually a bit wild with all the native pongas and cabbage trees and kawakawa but the bush has all been carefully planted. It certainly deserves the five stars as a Garden of National Significance as well as the talented gardener who created it.

A very different garden we saw is the Sculptureum, although here the garden takes second place to the sculptures, of which there are over 400 of them. For example, in most people's gardens they would be careful to kill their snails. But this one features giant pink snails. I am rather disturbed by it but the sculptor must have loved or worshipped snails? There was no trail of slime to indicate that the garden had snails but it could explain why, the only plants in this garden seemed to be mondo grass and nikau palms. They must have eaten everything else in their path.

I was impressed with the sheer variety of sculptures, but also rather puzzled about the Steve Job garden. Yes there was a garden dedicated to Steve Jobs. It consisted of panels of quotations from Steve Jobs amongst some wisteria. I don't remember any of the quotations as there were like a hundred of them and I could have just read his autobiography instead. Perhaps lying in a hammock in another garden. It could have had some apple trees. Perhaps. But I don't think it occurred to the creators to plant apple trees in a garden dedicated to Steve Jobs.

It had a rather nice restaurant though. The sculptures were mostly of animals, but I noted, no cats. There were rabbits, and birds, in enclosures and there were rabbits and birds sculptures too (the sculptures were not enclosed). There was also a giant dandelion made of yellow buckets.
I am not sure what to make of it as a garden. As a collection of giant toys, maybe. It did have giant lego blocks. Walking around the place does make you feel like the owner is showing off his collection and I got the same feeling I get when my neighbour tells me he has over 100 teddy bears and when he goes to the market he only limits himself to five books and dvds at a time, must cut back. Then the next time he writes he tells me he went again and got five more.

I don't tell him that, I am not counting the number of books he buys each week and the public library lets you have 35 books at one time and if you have more than that you are either a crazy readaholic or need to get out more. Good luck carrying 35 books in your library bag.

But I suppose this interests some people that I bought such and such a plant and planted it here, but I haven't gone so far as to label everything so others know what it is. I have an aversion to such labels proclaiming this plant is such and such and cost this much because then your garden just looks like a copy of a retail store.

Anyway...more on Matakana in the next post.