Middle Garden Tour

Middle Garden is an undisciplined riot of plantings, from Pittosporums and Rhododendrons to a free spirited Golden Hop which was intended to only cover a tree stump. Oops. Daffodils, pansies, lupins and euphorbias edge the paths, squashed in between large Phormiums (flaxes) and Cordylines.

Eek! It sounds just like all the other parts of my garden! So what's different? The water flowing in the irrigation race, for one, along which Middle Garden is planted. And the giant Gunnera which self-seeded along the bank (honestly, it did - I innocently welcomed all the little seedlings).

And I've just realised - there are no roses. My goodness, this much be a first! Surely I could find space for a few... I hope you enjoy visiting this ever-changing part of the garden.

Introducing Middle GardenIntroducing Middle Garden...
In the year 2000 Middle Garden, one of my waterside gardens, was definitely 'Under Construction'. It had a mind of its own, and kept expanding. I'd always think I'd got it right, then it would be dug out a little more here, a bit further there...
Middle Garden RhododendronsMiddle Garden Rhododendrons...
The trees in Middle Garden grow ever upwards, and I have to remember to limb them up to make room for the rhododendrons underneath. The understory of beautiful spring-flowering shrubs is fast filling out.
Duck Lawn Garden BenchDuck Lawn Garden Bench...
Duck Lawn has never had a garden bench or seat - something comfortable to stop me in my gardening tracks, and get me sitting and relaxing. Not until now, that is.
Spiraea ShrubSpiraea Shrub...
The shrubs in Middle Garden are a mixture of the distinguished and the ho-hum. Filling a garden with rhododendrons and artistic spiky shrubs is all very well - but what about something a little more quirky and interesting? Like a Spiraea?
Phormium (Flax) FlowersPhormium (Flax) Flowers...
New Zealand flaxes (Phormiums) grow along the water's edge in Middle Garden, and in summer they flower spectacularly.
Shrubs and SpikesShrubs and Spikes...
Spikes of Cordylines and New Zealand flaxes combine wth the delicate leaves of variegated Pittosporums to give Middle Garden its essential look. It's a classic shrubby and spiky New Zealand garden.
New Paths in Middle GardenNew Paths in Middle Garden...
Sweeping in a graceful curve though Middle Garden I've created a new access path, surfaced with soft bark mulch. A little side path leads down to the huge Gunnera at the water's edge.
Middle Garden PathMiddle Garden Path...
Middle Path is always being reclaimed from weeds and self-seeders, widened, and moved. In the early days Nicotianas and cherry red peonies were dominant plants near its edge. But then the big pink rhododendron grew - and grew - and grew...
Water Bridge FernsWater Bridge Ferns...
The fern by Middle Bridge grow happily at the water's edge, and marks the start of the path through Middle Garden. I wonder how many tired gardener's footsteps this bridge has experienced in its short life?
Spring Garden IrisSpring Garden Iris...
I love irises, and tend to pop them into many of the garden borders. At the back of Middle Garden is a particularly lovely two-tone iris, which grows just in front of the big Crambe perennial.
Cats on Middle BridgeCats on Middle Bridge...
The Moosey cats use Middle Bridge a lot, either when on gardening duties (following the Head Gardener) or when they need a drink of water from the water race.
WaterWater's Edge Gunnera...
Some Gunnera seedlings have made their home in Middle Garden by the water's edge. How cute they were when small - and they'd done all the planning and planting for me! And such stylish waterside plants, too. Oops... From little seedlings mighty Gunnera do grow.
Duck Lawn ShrubsDuck Lawn Shrubs...
Duck Lawn separates Middle Garden from the Hen-House Gardens, and a narrow border of mixed shrubs joins the two gardens. Here you'll enjoy seeing Hebes, Astelias, and a beautiful white flowering Cistus.
Weeping Crab-Apple TreeWeeping Crab-Apple Tree...
Gardeners like to choose new trees which will behave in the garden - that is, not grow too big - as well as providing features for different seasons. Crab-Apple trees are one of my top choices.
Orange NasturtiumsOrange Nasturtiums...
Go, you lovely orange things! They may be humble, but orange common-garden Nasturtiums are brilliant for a patch of bright, bilious colour. They are a great contrast with a neatly mown, lush green lawn...
Magnolia StellataMagnolia Stellata...
In the middle of spring my one Magnolia Stellata comes into flower. This small tree is a beauty, and its clear white flowers shine above the neighbouring pittosporums and flaxes in Middle Garden.
Red Flax and FernRed Flax and Fern...
What a beautiful colour combination this is - the red of the small weeping flax, and the clear mid-green of the water-side fern. These two foliage plants sit together at the beginning of the path through Middle Garden.
Middle Garden PeonyMiddle Garden Peony...
I've had to wait a few seasons for these red peonies on the edge of Middle path to establish themselves. Now each spring they flower fiercely, and if the blooms get levelled by rain I just pick them for the house.
Water Garden BridgeWater Garden Bridge...
Over the years I've taken lots of photographs of Middle Bridge standing on the back lawn. In the early days everything was clearly visible - the paths, ferns, trees and flaxes (Phormiums). And, of course, the cool running water.
Red Cordylines in Middle GardenRed Cordylines in Middle Garden...
Red Cordylines are beautifully coloured foliage shrubs, even if the hybrids in my garden are more of a dark wine-purple in colour. Middle Garden has a trio of them, surrounded by Phormiums and Viburnum tinus shrubs.
Tree Stump Garden CatTree Stump Garden Cat...
Sifter the cat used to fit well on the tree stump at Middle Garden's edge. This is definitely a photograph from the Archives - there are no uncovered stumps in this garden any more!
Spring BluesSpring Blues...
These delightful pansies fill in all the spaces in the spring Middle Garden. When they've flowered I pull them out and cut them up for mulch.
Red Canna LillyRed Canna Lilly...
The red canna flowers from mid summer. Its leaves are subtley striped with dark red and dark green.
Libertia New Zealand NativeLibertia New Zealand Native...
Here is a close-up of the rusty orange Libertia, native to New Zealand. It's a great landscaping plant. Originally it was only seen in council roadside plantings, but recently the glossy magazines have discovered it. Hmm...
The Head Gardener GardeningThe Head Gardener Gardening...
Gardeners know that they shouldn't bend over like this, but often the rules get broken. Gardeners usually don't allow themselves to be photographed, either. We're happier hiding behind our plants.
Middle Garden PlantingsMiddle Garden Plantings...
Middle Garden has always been a messy, busy garden, crammed full of foliage shrubs and flowers. The garden was originally dug around existing Pittosporums and Viburnums. Nothing ever stays the same for long in the middle of Middle Garden!
Golden HopGolden Hop...
Several large tree stumps were left in Middle Border, and my plan was to disguise the biggest with suitable plantings. I selected a Golden Hop, which behaved well for the first year. It is now showing its grosser intentions, but I still love it.
Phormium Tricolor & PittosporumPhormium Tricolor & Pittosporum...
Middle Garden's earliest plantings included Pittosporums with variegated leaves surrounding a striped Phormium (flax) called Tricolor. Pittosporums are shrub-trees, easily pruned if their growth needs restricting.
Daffodil Garden Path CatDaffodil Garden Path Cat...
In early photographs Middle Garden's dog-path is actually visible - this dog-path is being used by Jerome the cat. My original plantings of spring daffodils, too, have space to flower.
Blue CornflowerBlue Cornflower...
Here is a close-up of the red flax at the junction of Middle Path and its dog-path. I scatter seeds of the blue annual cornflowers and let them grow where they can.
Orange DahliasOrange Dahlias...
The orange dahlia seen here in this close-up was originally dumped in here to fill a gap. It has become my favourite, and is given the honour of being the only dahlia allowed in this border.