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Friday, 11 May 2018

Ayrlies revisited

Yesterday Louise and her husband Derek and I made our pilgrimage to Ayrlies Garden for the Plant Fair. There were many people visiting and buying plants and enchanted by the wonderful atmosphere of Ayrlies. Last time I was there with friends in September, when the magnolias were in bloom, this time, it's all about autumn colour - the golden liquidamber trees, the purple tibouchinia, the vivid red forest pansy, and the yellow hot pokers stood out for me. As we strolled around the paths exclaiming at every corner, how masterful Bev had planted her garden - the groundcovers beside  the stream and waterfalls especially. I did not see one weed, or even bare soil or mulch, every inch was covered by living plants.

Several signature plants we liked included the swamp cypress, one was growing right in the pond, the waterlilies, the giant gunnera, the ponga ferns, the fluffy papyrus reeds, the zigzag plant (I don't know the name). I loved touching the furry plants beside the path and thought of all the different textures Bev had in her garden, one thing you can't say is that Ayrlies is boring. Having so many different plants all in one place makes for unusual combinations and juxtapositions - succulents in forests, fruit salad plants climbing up pine trees, natives with exotics, somehow it all works. To me it's a real Auckland garden,  just like our people. Diverse, multicultural, vibrant.

I also liked the little touches that made the garden more than just a collection of plants, the little resting areas and gazebos along the path, the wooden stumps that can double as seats, the quirky ponga log dog. The garden, created from bare paddock in 1964, is more than 50 years old. We came across a 90 year old visitor who recalled how much it had grown over the years, she could remember when the temple pergola was the only feature coming up the path and now it was surrounded by mature trees.

Ayrlies is an artist's garden. It's about colours and textures and layers. It's vistas and frames and contrasts. You won't find a vege patch although there is an orchard/meadow that is more for effect than producing fruit. Somehow my petty envy at the size and vision of this garden fell away and became inspiration instead. It's also about having fun and experimenting. We are so blessed to be able to grow a range of plants here from succulents to conifers that the whole is more than the sum of it's parts. It was Ayrlies that introduced me to the possibilities of colour, being more than flowers but leaf shape and form. You don't need to plant in rows and straight lines. Instead of levelling the ground, work with it. Create hills and gullies, peaks and valleys.

Louise said she must come back again. I bought iris  from the plant fair stand and so wanted to linger for a few hours more, if it hadn't started to rain on our way back. I am going to plant those iris and dream about future gardens once more.