I’m not gardening with all native plants! Life is too short to limit one’s garden to plants that are “indigenous to a given area in geologic time.” Sure there are lots of benefits for that approach in gardens but I’m diversifying. Every garden travel adventure introduces me to new plants. The Missouri Botanical Garden’s Tropico’s plant database reports “Botanists have published more than 1.2 million plant names since 1753,” so there is no way I will ever see all the genus, species, and hybrids. Just thinking of all the possibilities for my little piece of earth makes me do a happy dance. When I find a Bat flower (Tacca chantrieri) blooming in the shape of a flying bat or the African turtle plant, (Dioscorea elephantipes) that grows a big woody base resembling the shell of a turtle, I get curious, I get excited, I want to see if I could grow it in my garden.
In a country where everything grows, a garden showcases native NZ plants.
I’ve just returned from visiting gardens in New Zealand. There are so many shades of green, so many plants it seems everything grows in this country of passionate gardeners. It is a country with a long history of influence by English gardeners, a land of rich soil and favorable climate. There are many wonderful gardens to visit in NZ. The Kiwis (NZ residents) have long embraced importing plants from all over the world though more recent environmental practices have both restricted imports and placed a greater emphasis on native plants in gardens country wide. Broadfields Garden is a garden of NZ plants and a garden of international significance. Some twenty years ago one man, David Hobbs, decided he wanted to make a garden. He acquired flat land used as paddocks (pasture) drew up plans and set to work. Today his ideas and plants have grown into an 8.5 acre garden of NZ plants. His goal is the use of native plants supplemented with only nonnatives hybridized and grown in NZ.
Lessons From the Ruth Bancroft Garden, Johanna Silver, Photographs by Marion Brenner, Published by Timber Press 2016
Today’s gardeners digging succulents and arid plants will immediately be attracted to the beautiful cover of The Bold Dry Garden. The surprise in opening the book is that before you learn about arid plants you get a story of Ruth, a curious gardener who loves plants and design. Johanna Silver has written this important story of Ruth Bancroft and her Bold Dry Garden documenting her place in American garden history. Ruth’s succulent and cactus garden in Walnut Creek, CA has been growing since 1972. For over 40 years this garden filled with succulents, cactus, shrubs, and trees from arid lands around the world has been inspiring visitors.This was long before drought conditions introduced gardeners to such interesting plants as Aeonium, Agaves, Aloes, Euphorbias, Sedums and Yuccas.
The Parnell Rose Garden overlooks Mechanics Bay in Auckland, NZ. Arriving here on a rainy day it seems repetitive to visit another rose garden. Yet here it overlooks the bay, there are sailboats out on the water and a Golden Retriever is sitting on a bench under a tree. The roses are flowering, slightly beaten down by the rain and the first rose I see is purple. A true purple floribunda, not a wine color red, nor the lavender rose I’ve seen before. There wasn’t a label for the color but the deep color petals were purple. I was quite intrigued by the shade. But then I’m fond of purple and as I walked about the garden I found more purples to enjoy.
Masses of people come to New Zealand to travel the trail of Hobbits and dragons. Not I. Arriving at Te Puna Quarry Park I had to will myself out of the car. I’ve seen so much beautiful and so many gardens how could I be amazed again? We set out, it was a big car park and we didn’t know which way to go. I headed to a small circle of trees with a lawn and there be a dragon! An enormous dragon, I walked its length and my footsteps measured 90’ long. He guarded the stairs, the huge head on the ground, the three-toed leg hugged the steps. His eyes deep and blue made in slivers of glass. This sculpture by artist Roger Bullot is made of Hinuera stone & concrete. Hinuera stone is a volcanic creation and unique to New Zealand.
The Giant’s House in Akaroa is the work of artist Josie Martin. Years ago in an effort to repair a damaged front step, before visitors arrived, she used some broken crockery to repair it in mosaic form. It worked and she liked the effect.
We drove to Governor’s Bay, through the harbor town of Lyttleton, the actual epicenter of the 2010-2011 great earthquake which was generally known as the Christchurch quake. Just beyond the Governor’s Bay Hotel is Ohinetahi. Can’t figure out how to pronounce that? Neither could I, however, the resident, creator, architect and gardener Sir Miles Warren told me. Divide it into five syllables, O-hen-E-Ta-HE. Sir Miles is a well-known architect, he designed the New Zealand Embassy in Washington, D.C. to note just one of his projects.
We arrived in Christchurch and within 20 minutes of our arrival, I felt the earth move. Sitting in a desk chair, the ground moved me up and down, back and forth and up and down. Then it stopped. We haven’t felt anything since. So, with a heightened sense of awareness, we arrived at the Botanic Gardens near the CBD (central business district) of Christchurch. This awareness increased as we noted the extensive construction scaffolding around the building’s of Christ College that joins the garden. This is a city still rebuilding and repairing.
What was originally a small holiday house on 40 acres in the Wakitipu Basin overlooking The Remarkables mountain range is now a grand home surrounded by a glorious garden. While many who travel to New Zealand do so intent on tramping through some of the great walks in this country, I did a different walk beginning near the barn and the lavender field and walked my way up to the Asian Garden at the top and looked out toward The Remarkables mountain range in the distance.
Driving down a coast road I wondered, “What will grow along the sea, with salt air, wind and waves?” Turns out really quite a lot of wonderful things. I knew immediately a grand gardener lived here as we arrived at a coastal side patch of grass and waves of orange gazanias (daisy style) blooms accented by a rustic bench set to enjoy the views of the rocky beach. Coast Haven garden on the Taranaki Garden Festival tour has been under the care of one gardener for the past 30 years.