Here in the southern hemisphere, we have a spectacular variety of ecological conditions, mammals and birds. From tropical and sweaty to arid and tinder dry. From swampy and sea level to sky-skimming and alpine. Aussie and Kiwi gardens are just blooming wonderful at any time of year. Here’s some award-winning and well-loved private gardens in the ANZAC countries. Along with some design inspiration for home owners or resort owners looking to integrate a watery wonderland into their property.
Ayrlies Garden, near Whitford, New Zealand
This is one of New Zealand’s most famous private gardens. Owner Beverly McConnell and her late husband Malcolm began digging out and planting their nascent eden back in 1964. The name harks back to the McConnell family farm in Scotland. They have created a lush and sprawling country garden with informal plantings, natural waterways, lakes and ponds.
Beverly and Malcolm used the shape of the landscape to dictate the location of the plantings and pathways. As a result, there’s a tranquility to the place. With serene strips of dappled sunlight, heady wafts of flowers and other serendipitous discoveries.
The centrepiece of the park is the thirty five acre wetland, and an eight acre lake. This is home to many migrating and local water fowl, and the cacophony of native birds communing at dusk. It takes about an hour to walk all the way around the park and take in the spectacular lake. It’s well worth the ramble.
Kennerton Green, Mittagong, NSW. Australia.
Kennerton Green was originally developed by Sir Jock and Lady Pagan in the 1950’s. This was then handed on to Marylyn Abbott in the 1970’s. There’s plenty to enjoy in this verdant sanctuary such as a potager, or vegetable garden plus a spectacular array of garden rooms that include a birchwood nook and bay tree parterre.
A trip to Kennerton Green is to step back into gentler and quieter times. There’s a flurry of mature elms and oaks, flowering cherry trees and wisteria, and a fully functioning potager. Or in other words an old fashioned fruit and vegetable garden that’s a nod to French provincial traditions. Manicured lawns and orderly box hedges bring a sense of direction to the garden. There’s also a pretty central pool with goldfish located in a medieval-style walled garden. An ornamental lake takes centre-stage in the birchwood forest. It’s the perfect place for wandering around one lazy afternoon.
Te Kainga Marire, New Plymouth, Taranaki. New Zealand
Te Kainga Marire Garden in Taranaki in New Zealand was originally a half acre of clay 30 years ago with wild fennel and blackberries growing there. Now that it’s been skilfully mastered and tamed, it’s been honoured as one of the few private gardens of international significance in New Zealand.
Te Kainga Marire was even featured on the BBC’s ‘Around the World in 80 Gardens’. Te Kainga Marire means peaceful encampment in Maori – and that’s exactly what it is. An inner city garden that celebrates native plants and New Zealand bird-life. It’s also brought back into the neighbourhood lots more Tui, whose numbers were slowly dwindling due to urbanisation.
Valda Poletti and David Clarkson are the owners, who had a vision to lovingly create a mix of alpine, coastal and wetland ferns and shrubs, to create an ideal sanctuary for local birds in the area. They were spurred into action by the dwindling numbers of Tui in the area, and have successfully created a safe place for the birds to thrive. The garden wraps around the Poletti-Clarkson home and also nestles closely to the Te Henui walkway, a picturesque walkway that leads from the city to the sea. This is a proper microcosm of New Zealand’s native plants and birds and is a must-see for any visitor in the Taranaki region.
Tui, one of New Zealand’s native honeyeaters are important pollinators of native forest flowers. The flowers of the harakeke, or NZ flax, are perfectly shaped to fit the tui’s beak. The yellow colouring on this tui’s forehead is a dusting of pollen from the harakeke flowers where it had been feeding on nectar.They are intelligent, aggressively territorial, and are said to be able to imitate the calls of nearly every other bird, as well as a vast array of other sounds.