Mona Vale Gardens
Tulip and Pansy Rows
Mona Vale Botanical Gardens are a suburban Christchurch public garden which surrounds an old colonial homestead.
Brochures for this garden are prominent in all the tourist centres - it has an image of beauty and grace, the perfect garden to stroll around, have elegant gourmet picnics in, or to get married in...
My visit to Mona Vale was - well - interesting. It turned into a visit of personal affirmation - my own silly, lovely garden is far more joyous (and weedy, and messy). Again I was more impressed by the tame ducks waddling around on the beautiful lawns than by the gardens themselves. I am such a disrespectful and myopic botanic garden visitor!
I felt strangely ill-at-ease in this flax-less New Zealand garden. The grand public planting displays (tulips in rows, for example) are definitely not my style. But then I have never been very good with tulips...
There were lots of garden areas that I did like, though - like the rhododendrons in the lawns - and of course the river with its clumps of waterside Gunnera. I immediately tried to imagine having proper Moosey lawns (not mown paddocks) and lots of resident gardeners...
I spied a large geometrically-shaped water lily pond in a rectangle of grass, enclosed by shrubs and small trees - it was very symmetric, and quite beautiful. I suspect that a more seasoned garden reporter would call it a garden room. Ambience was again supplied by an ornamental group of tame ducks - why won't the Moosey resident ducks do this?
Visitors to public gardens come in with many, varied agendas. Some come just to picnic, others to be garden-inspired, while others simply want to enjoy the fresh air and the walking. I always personalise my botanical garden visits: Could I live in this garden? Where would I sit to read? Which area would I dig next? Do I want a fernery?
Sculpture in the Fernery
Bus loads of garden visitors and wedding parties at Mooseys? I don't think so! But Mona Vale is well worth more than one gentle visit. The public style bedding displays are colour packed. The flowering late-spring rhododendrons in the lawns are quite beautiful. I know that the roses will soon be delightful.
And the ducks are really tame...