Friday, 15 February 2019

Heroic Aucklanders

Louise and I went on our annual garden tiki tour of Auckland Heroic Garden Festival this Saturday and saw some fine gardens. We went to three, one the Fox's garden in Point Chev, two the Partridge family garden on Hillside Crescent Mt Eden, and three an amazing tropical balinese style garden in Ellerslie.

Chris and Kath Fox's garden in Point Chevalier is a very contemporary kiwi garden, completely flat section as typical of Pt Chev and thus rather sleek and simple to go with their expanded villa. Large stone slabs led to their house, with the guest house facing a native pond area with kowhai, flaxes, oioi, native groundcovers, nikaus and ferns. Then around the back was more open plan living with a small lawn, fire pit, outdoor living area, a bromeliad corner, with succulent in pots decorating the walls. Three forest pansies provided a canopy, coprosmas and mulenbeckias were used as hedges, and it all looked easy care and weed free, with composting and raised vege garden to the side of the house. One idea I am going to borrow is a birdbath planted up with succulents.

Roger and Lyndsey Partridge's garden is one a very sloping site right next to Mt Eden of course, their large villa built 1870 abutting the hill, so one has to walk many steps leading up to the house and even more steps to their backyard, which is terraced. Such a site would be completely daunting to anyone considering eking out a garden, but these owners weren't put was just challenging, but where there's a will, there's a way. Wavy teucrium hedges surround the house, there's banks of jasmine and tree ferns,  feijoas, renga lilies and hens and chicken ferns, there's various steps and paths leading to a flattish lawn space, they've even incorporated a terraced vege garden and chickens penned in behind a netted golf driving range/cricket wicket. While now established with planting with not much more to do but clip, clip and clip.  And the view out over Auckland is simply amazing.

Finally over past the Ellerslie racecourse there's a quiet cul-de sac where a somewhat obsessed Polish landscape gardener Tadeusz Siankowski has devoted his life to a subtropical paradise of palms and glossy gardenias are plants you might ordinarily find indoors or in the wintergarden greenhouse such as  tropical climbers, zebra plants, peace lilies, all jostling for space beneath the palm fronds amongst water features, wavy mondo grass and crazy paving. He says he's watering from 7 in the morning and sometimes doesn't finish until 10 at night. That's dedication. And when winter rolls around, all the tender plants are brought indoors in their pots.  Quietly of all the gardens I've seen this one is the maddest but most endearing.

I think it's so easy for people in Auckland to buy a property and just keep it tidy by employing property managers who subcontract mowing the lawn around a tree or two. One can be like all the other suburbanites who aspire to do nothing with their land, other than rent it out to someone else so they can pay the mortgage while said Auckland absentee landowner lives somewhere cheaper, like Taupo for half the year. Then once they've got that mortgage paid off they can sell it on for a cool million or two, by that time the existing slum house can be bulldozed to make room for an apartment block and even more rent can be charged.  Or turned into revenue gathering carpark. But not so with these Heroic Gardeners. They are not your run of the mill Aucklanders.  They are our gardening heroes who saved a piece of Auckland from becoming carpark and turned it into paradise. I take my gardening hat off to you. Well done  good and faithful gardeners may you live long and prosper.