I didn’t intend to leave you so long

There has been a lot going on since I last chatted with you.   Just re-reading my last post, brought back all the feels – the nerves, the determination, the long, long list of things to do, and the excitement.  There was so much ahead and a lot of it was unknown.  But now it is all behind me and I look back and wonder how I did it all and remembering with fondness that I had an absolute blast.  So, to bring you up to speed….

The garden all planted out
The garden all planted out and reluctantly left to cope alone.

Firstly, I managed to get the garden and my office clean and tidy and planted out in good time. This took me a little by surprise because while in the midst of it, it didn’t seem possible!   I kept back a spare set of everything for just in case and then offered all of my other spares to the lovely gardeners from the garden club that arrived by bus to visit my garden.    Any spare seedlings at the end of day were given to my neighbour, who will probably end up with a better outcome than me, however his garden is further back from the coast and much more sheltered.  Besides comparison is the thief of joy and I’m just pleased my little green babies went off to a good home.

Chantecler was the kind of garden where it seemed everything grew magnificently in a perfect microclimate.

All the while, I was also preparing for my big trip that was to whisk me away from the garden for 20 days.  There was a lot to be done as I was to take up my role as a botanical tour guide for Botanica World Discoveries, hosting our travelling garden loving guests across the country exploring the best gardens New Zealand has to offer.  There were two tours under my care – the Taranaki Garden Spectacular & Private Gardens tour and the Private Gardens and Landscapes tour which ran back to back.

Barewood Garden
The fabulous Barewood Garden with its beautiful hawthorn walk in full bloom.
There was a great used of magnificent structures in the garden at Ohinetahi

All up over 20 days we visited 34 absolutely amazing gardens and travelled the length of the country, starting in Taranaki, down to Wellington, Marlborough, Christchurch, Dunedin, Queenstown and then up to Hamilton and Auckland.  The interesting thing is each garden was different.  I was worried that I would get ‘cathedraled out’.  When I was a lot younger and did my OE in Europe we saw so many cathedrals.  The first one was awe inspiringly majestic, but towards the end they all seemed to have a same same familiarity about them.  But with the gardens, it wasn’t like that at all.  And to be honest I would be hard pushed to name a favourite.

Castlemaine Garden was one of my many favourites. There was such a welcoming peace about it

There were some stand out gardens though.  The stunning weather with classical music piped through the garden at Castlemaine Garden near Lumsden had a peace and elegance about it that we were all reluctant to leave.   The Italianate styling of Casa Rossa just out of Christchurch was so full of life, it felt like you were being embraced in a horticultural hug!

Cassa Rosa
Casa Rossa was a garden full to the brim with stunning vistas

But it wasn’t just the gardens that made it special, but the gardeners themselves, many who generously hosted us with a guided tour through their life’s work.  You could just feel the passion and love beaming from them as they spoke about their gardens.   Notable hosts were having lunch with the fabulous Josie Martin from the Giants House in Akaroa where her art blended fabulously into the garden, and dining in style at Larnach Castle with the elegantly graceful Mrs Barker who also showed us around her magnificent garden perched on the top of the windswept hill.  But everyone else was also so lovely, but that goes without saying as gardeners are the nicest people.

The Giants House
Mosaic sculptures at The Giants House burst with life in the garden packed full of interest at every turn.

Upon returning home, we were supposed to head back down to Wellington for a wedding, however dreaded lurgy I’ve been trying to avoid for the last few years came knocking on my door.  Fortunately, I wasn’t struck down too badly, but it did mean my poor garden didn’t get the homecoming love it deserved, but rather my absence for yet another week.  Having said that, had I been well, it wouldn’t have been any different as the weather was just persistent and torrential rain for the full seven days I was required to stay at home.

Larnach Castle
It was a joy and a pleasure to share a meal at Larnach Castle
Larnach Castle
It was even more of a pleasure to be escorted around the castle grounds by Mrs Barker who pointed out everything she loved about the garden.

The combination of the bad weather and the dreaded lurgy meant the open garden day I foolishly planned for the first weekend home had to be cancelled.  It was probably just as well.  But as there was so much interest, we’ve rescheduled and so the new date for the open day is the 21st Jan 2023.  There should be just the right amount of time after the summer holiday to restore order and have the garden looking its best before the season turns and things start to wane.  I am a sucker for punishment really.  But with a deadline there remains a need to keep the garden looking its best and you can’t beat that kind of panic driven motivation to stay on top of things.

Trotts Garden
The brightly painted accents really made the plants pop in the red border at Trotts Garden.
There was a great use of magnificent structures in the garden at Ohinetahi

The weather now is easing, but as I write this it is still a bit blowy straight off the ocean.  I took some slow and tentative steps into the garden with my Handy Helper and we did what we could to begin to restore order.  To be fair it wasn’t really that bad, nothing that a bit of pottering about in the next week or so won’t fix.  The garden is resilient, and the season will be what it is.  Each season is different and an opportunity to learn and grow and even after all these years, it is good to let the garden show you something new.

My Garden
And home to my Garden, which seemed to cope well enough without me, which came as a great relief.

And so there you have it, the last few weeks have been a crazy whirlwind and now it is back to normal as we head into Christmas and all that the festive season brings.

Come again soon – sometimes a normal ordinary routine is just what is needed.

Sarah the Gardener  : o)

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