Introducing the Dog-Path Garden
Phormium on the Dog-Path
When a sturdy wooden bridge was built across the water race in 1999, work on the Dog-Path Garden began at once. The old gorse hedge was gone, and the double row of gum trees were felled and cleared away. Goody! I immediately went into full water-feature mode. I was going to create a foliage garden of marginals, just like I'd seen in the garden magazines.
But it was immediately obvious that the soil was raised so far from the water that it didn't get at all boggy. So I turned wistfully to the shrubby side, and started levelling the ground for a dog-path by the water's edge.
I built a modest retaining wall with river stones, and the dog-path below it slowly crept further and further along. The first gardens were planted with bargain bin shrubs and flowers, and special specimen trees (Dogwoods, Elms and Maples) were chosen. A batch of free, bare-root roses arrived and further expansion became necessary. As things slowly grew, so did the dog-path itself, past a seat and a waterside Phormium, around a willow stump, ending eventually by the Plank.
Dog-Path Garden Flowers and Flaxes
Nothing stayed the same for very long in this garden. The soil was rich, and all the shrubs fattened out quickly. Then several waterside plants grew too bulky, and the path became a hazard - it was now far too easy for a tired gardener (me) to wobble and fall into the water.
So, sadly, I had to block the dog-path off. Now it just runs between the variegated Arundo and the big bronze Phormium, with a tiny connecting path giving access from the lawn at the back.
Space for Rhododendrons
Those trees I planted in the interior of the Dog-Path Garden have certainly earned their keep, with beautiful blossom and bracts in spring and fiery autumn colour. Other shrubs (like Pittosporums) have come and gone, making space for some rescued rhododendrons.
Blue Jay Rhododendron with Green Phormium
In the winter of 2010 I built a circular courtyard underneath the spreading Copper Beech tree, with bricks that fell down in Christchurch's earthquake. Surrounded by daffodils, roses, and beautiful green ferns, the bricks curve in the shape of a koru, a fern frond. It's my small memorial for an event I'll never forget.
So what's next for the Dog-Path Garden? It really can't really expand much more - famous last words!