Friday, 26 April 2019

Terri's hillside haven

I didn't know Titirangi used to be farmland. That it was all clear-felled for farms only a century ago, then divided up into housing with the rainforest slowly growing back. Terri's house in on the ridgeline of Pleasant Road and her garden is all the land below it. When she described the difficulty of working it, I couldn't imagine more contrast to my flat, clear treeless expanse to her sloping jungle.

Yesterday Karyn and I took tea and a wander. We were enveloped in a profusion of plants, climbers, bromeliads, natives, camellias, exotics, and a bog garden down below where the rain settles. We were a bit disturbed by her description of her banana tree as a male part of the anatomy, but it really was a giant wonder. It can be back breaking work, and she regularly goes to an acupuncturist, because there's nothing to stop everything from rolling down the hill. Her olives tree is planted outside her kitchen's front door, so when it does drop fruit, they literally roll into her kitchen. She's also got a grapevine trained up the side of her house, to pluck in the summer on the deck.

Some plants are unruly. The puriris need to be clipped back, and the tradescantia pulled up. The puka which drops giant leaves has to go. Dracena is unwanted. On the plus side there is no lawn to mow. But on the downside she needs to bring an aborist in for her trees. Veges don't really stand a chance with the lack of sun, and fruit trees sometimes struggle. But if foliage is your thing, she's got giant taro, gunnera, lacy papyrus. She's got japanase maples and a brilliant tupelo tree that is like a chameleon in all different shades of leaf from crimson to gold.  She rhapsodises about the smell of philedelphus 'mock orange' and brunfelsia 'yesterday, today and tomorrow'.

I marvel at the piece of paradise that Terri has created, rescued out of wild ginger and privet. She bushwhacked a path down to where she's got another little deck with two chairs under the tupelo tree and facing the dinghy pond. It has water lilies in it. Not that she's got much time to the garden there's always stuff to do.

Karyn says she reminds her of her mother who also commands a house and garden in the hills of Matakana,  built an entire retaining wall and can boast of  trekking across the mountains of Spain in her 70s. I suppose you can  call them 'indomitable women' . Terri knows people might think her quite mad, as the garden has her quite in it's grasp. I remark her garden is like the book 'Where the Wild Things Are' where the wild things say 'please don't go, we'll eat you up, we love you so'. I know she wants us to stay longer and be enchanted, but Karyn was getting bitten by bugs and so we left Terri at her garden's mercy.

I went back home and thought well my garden is very tame.  In general the plants don't encroach and everything seems like its orderly and tidy even though Mum and Dad don't think so. (see previous post) I reckon I should mix it up a bit, and plant a kauri tree right in the middle of the lawn. I will make my claim that I am stopping the Kauri trees from dying back. If they protest they will then need to take that up with Department of Conservation.