By Nicola Kawana
In the full flight of summer, my mother from whom I’ve inherited my gardening genes and nose, I’ve been told, came to stay from my home province of Taranaki. Mum is a well tread garden tourist with the abundance of open gardens and festivals in Taranaki. We talk about them every year yet I’ve never been, I guess I always thought that Pukekura park, the mother of all gardens, was enough to satiate my interest. That and my weekly work in some of Auckland’s high end gardens.
On a hot weekend in February Mum and I got in the car with the good old fashioned map book and joined in the heroic garden festival tour. We chose gardens which were unique and had been created by their owner as opposed to a garden designer. Gardens with surprising nooks and crannies, chooks and bees, fruit and flowers. The Exalt garden in New Lynn features a temple and life sized mannequins and the ashes of loved ones resting in the garden. A permaculture garden in Sandringham was home to a colony of bees, some well named chooks and a range of delectable edibles.
The Hirst garden on Richmond Road features a natural swimming pool, super model chickens and a peach tree that made my mouth water.
In the true sense of pride month of which the tour is a part, these gardens are nothing short of FAB-U-LOUS!
I, like many of my fellow Aucklanders, am a renter, with no prospect of buying in the inner city suburb of which I live, in the near future or possibly ever. A slight dilemma for an OCD gardener.
When we looked at this place it was perfect, a large section with no gardens. “Do you think they’d mind if I put in a wee garden?”, I asked the letting agent. Little did they know that 5 years later the property would feature formal hedges, native trees, flower gardens, a decent veggie patch, fruit vines and trees and what was once a hideous and dilapidated garage is now almost entirely covered in tightly clipped ivy.
I would be stoked to have tenants like us, along with my constant garden building and tending, my husband has a special relationship with his lawn mower which he puts into action once a week.
Since our ‘Heroic’ touring, my own backyard has been under intense scrutiny. I’ve looked at it from every angle, revisited every plant, paid special attention to the ‘flow’ of my planting and have decided it’s time for a change. I know it’s summer and I should leave it alone but with all this rain and humidity I’m sure my garden dwellers can handle a little rearranging.
Apart from having an eye for what looks great, what I’m really after is what feels right. Does this garden express who I am at this time? Does it excite and inspire me? It is my belief that a garden is an ongoing conversation, constantly evolving and changing, throwing up questions and answers at the same time.
So, I’m in the middle of a chat with my backyard, we’ve decided on soft borders and more salvias, native ground covers and espaliered fruit.
I highly recommend mooching around your local garden centre and seeing which lovelies resonate with who you are. You know the ones, they demand your attention, they make you ooh and aah, they make you touch and sniff them, they beg to come home with you and not because they are trendy or what the neighbour has or what some else has recommended.
But simply because they represent you. And that is what being your own garden hero is all about.