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Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Winter Gardens at the Auckland Domain

We’re well into spring in November which is a popular time of year for doing Garden Tours. Thankfully, there are plenty of public gardens around Auckland where I live, that can be visited, even for free, and most of them I’m sure will be looking good at this time of year.

The Winter Gardens at the Auckland Domain are a good example. They basically consist of 2 large greenhouses separated by a large courtyard and fernery.



One the greenhouses is filled with subtropical plants while the other one focuses more on perennials and annuals, etc. and although one of them was closed for maintenance when I visited, the other greenhouse did not disappoint.


I was like a kid in a candy shop not sure of where to point my camera first. It was a veritable feast of colours, shapes and textures. Plenty of inspiration for both the gardener in me and the photographer and artist too. The display of Foxgloves looked amazing.


The fernery was stunning too and while there wasn’t much in the way of colour, there was more than enough textures and shades of green to make up for it. 


So if you ever get the chance to visit Auckland, be sure to visit the Domain and Winter Gardens. I’m sure you’ll be glad you did.



Monday, November 18, 2013

The Great Greenhithe Garden Tour – Overview

When I decided to do a blog post about the Greenhithe Garden Tour I should’ve known that doing a single post about it was not going to be easy or concise. With 15 private gardens being opened to the public one of my biggest concerns was how to write about it without offending any of the exhibitors or hosts that don’t even get a mention should they be gracious enough to even visit my blog, let alone read it, should they happen to stumble across it somehow.

In deciding what to feature, I was conscious that like any creative form of expression, tastes in gardening styles can also be very subjective, so I decided to just concentrate on what appealed to me personally. Realistically I knew that of the 100 or more photos that I took I would probably only use a dozen or so, and just try to give an overview of what I saw.






It was immediately apparent that a lot of time and effort had been put in to each garden on show. Roses featured prominently in many of the gardens and while I’m not really a big fan of roses, some beautiful examples of them got me thinking about changing my view. Like the stunning red roses in garden No.4 which were being trained to grow up some trellis on the side of the house. They provided a beautiful accent to this garden which complimented the house nicely.







Many of the gardens had some kind of water feature in them and I particularly liked the stone work in Garden No.1 which was fenced off to create a private little haven with a tropical theme.

Visiting this Garden was a real treat as the hosts had a live band playing jazz music right there in the garden.

As we meandered through their large sloping section dotted with vegie patches and tropical palms the music wafted through the trees as we went, creating a rather festive atmosphere.



















We arrived a little late at Garden No.13 so missed hearing someone talking about bee biology and beekeeping. But we couldn’t miss the distinctive hum of buzzing bees as we made our way along the board walk which circled around their property past a gathering of several beehives. The water feature here was a completely natural one as this property backs onto the upper harbour entry to Lucas Creek.

Although the gardens on show were the main attractions of the day, it seemed the whole community was in the gardening spirit. We could hear lawnmowers going as we walked from place to place and there were many other gardens besides those open to the public that caught my attention along the way, like this mediterranean inspired house. The white roses and bright green clipped hedges stood out beautifully against the terracotta masonry. This part of Greenhithe got me thinking about how beautiful a place it must be to live... if only you could afford it!



I’ve been thinking for some time about introducing bromeliads to the tropical area of my garden and a stunning specimen I saw by the pool in Garden No.15 was enough to persuade me that I should just go ahead and do it.

As you can see, every garden we visited had it’s own unique character and there were plenty of ideas to take away and think about. Even the most mundane areas of a property can be beautified like this area surrounding the clothesline in Garden No.9. At the time I didn’t even notice the clothesline was there – it was only when I looked at the pictures afterwards.


It’s kind of hard to believe that the last 3 pictures were all taken on the same property at Garden No.9. And as is true with all the other Gardens shown here, the pictures I’ve posted show only a glimpse of what we actually saw on the tour. One thing that all the gardens have in common though is the tremendous amount of work that’s obviously gone into creating them. This particular property apparently has a team of gardeners...

By this point in the tour, after walking what seemed like several kilometres, up and down driveways and between all the houses, Izumi and I both reached the point of exhaustion and decided to go home. We’d had enough garden-hopping for one day. 

There was so much to see that we didn’t get to see them all which is kinda what I expected. But we saw 10 out of 15, so not a bad effort in view of the limited time we had available, as we both had appointments scheduled for the afternoon.


The truth is I am humbled by the whole experience and for a fleeting moment questioned whether I had any right to call myself a gardener. But gardening is something anybody can do no matter how large or small their property might be. Everybody has a different approach and that’s what makes it so interesting. 





Thursday, November 14, 2013

The Great Greenhithe Garden Tour

After many years of procrastinating I have finally decided to take The Great Greenhithe Garden Tour. This is an annual event held in the nearby suburb of Greenhithe. It’s held each spring to raise funds for their local kindergarden and is now into it’s 20th year. So I finally got around to getting 2 tickets and my wife Izumi and I will be attending it this Sunday. 

It only lasts for one day from 10am ‘til 4pm and there are 15 private gardens that will be opened to the public, all within a 1 or 2 kilometre radius in Greenhithe. I remember Greenhithe as a youngster when it was considered to be semi-rural. I have some family members who moved there in the mid 1970’s and are still there today, so it has a familiar feeling about it for me. 

These days it has become a sought-after place to live and has a quaint community atmosphere. It is almost completely surrounded by water like an island and in recent times it has really filled up with housing. The gardens themselves are in the more well established parts of Greenhithe.


I’m really looking forward to it but I hope the weather will be fine as I’d like to get some interesting photos and thoughts together to share with you here on my blog. For more information visit their website here: The Great Greenhithe Garden Tour.

Read my review of the tour here