Willow Tree Garden Tour

The Willow Tree Garden is a great location for coffee drinkers and summer readers. The rhododendrons are beautifully colourful in spring. In summer there are roses to enjoy, surrounded by foxgloves, delphiniums and penstemons, lupins and blue pansies. There are flaxes and grasses in the garden which slopes down to the water race.

Three blue wooden seats beckon on a secluded little oval lawn, the water rushes past, the willow branches swoosh gently in the breeze... Such are the simple sounds of paradise.

Should I mention that the giant Gunnera stalks and leaves around the willow stump offer shelter to the odd water rat? Rusty the dog goes barking mad when his dog-nose catches the rat scent. I usually grab the broom and make loud advancing noises, joining in...

I just wish that Non-Gardening Partner would make me a tree house to fit into the middle of the willow stump. That's not too much to ask, is it?

Introducing the Willow Tree GardenIntroducing the Willow Tree Garden...
The Willow Tree Garden is the result of the slow but sure expansion of gardens by the water race. I had plans for a wilderness Oak Grove with swathes of naturalised daffodils. In late 2001 the lure of some controlled ornamental gardening by the water proved too much...
Willow Tree Garden ImagesWillow Tree Garden Images...
The Willow Tree Garden was originally designed to be shrubby, with mainly rhododendrons underneath the Oak trees. Here are some of my latest pictures.
Tree Damage!Tree Damage!...
Oops. In September 2013 we had severe wind gales, with wind speed reaching 160 km per hour. This was too much for the neighbour's pine plantation, and trees fell like dominoes. The last ones crashed over our driveway and into the Willow Tree Garden. Oh dear. It was a huge mess and I cried and cried!
Early DaysEarly Days...
The Willow Tree Garden had a simple and sensible beginning. The gentle slope from the grass down to the water's edge was too difficult to mow, so I dug a garden instead. The perfect solution - when in doubt, dig! I initially filled it with reject plants from other borders, and roses and flaxes started off growing happily side by side...
Garden by Willow BridgeGarden by Willow Bridge...
After Willow Bridge was built in 2008, it tended to feature in all the garden photographs I took near the water race, whether looking upstream or downstream. It's hard to ignore such a strong, beautifully made feature!
ErythroniumsErythroniums...
A lovely clump of Dog's Tooth Violets, or Erythroniums, are growing happily in the semi-shade of the Willow Tree Garden. They were dug out of a friend's garden when she was moving and relocated here.
Willow Tree WatersideWillow Tree Waterside...
The Willow Tree sprouts each year from a large stump on the water's edge. I keep pruning the lowest shoots to create a canopy underneath, where I've planted hostas and rhododendrons. And every now and then the stump's biggest branches get the chain-saw treatment. Ouch!
The Eggy GardenThe Eggy Garden...
The Eggy Garden at the driveway-end of the water race was started in the year 2004. It quickly turned into a very typical Moosey foliage garden, I'm afraid - filled with the usual assortment of Phormiums, Pittosporums, Rhododendrons, and other shrubs.
Willow Tree StumpWillow Tree Stump...
If you have a garden named after you, it only seems polite to have a close-up photograph. This is the stumpy willow tree, in all its winter glory. Someone (me) has been experimenting with some wood, and Fluff-Fluff the cat has decided this is a good spot. But it looks cold. Brr....
Blue Garden SeatsBlue Garden Seats...
After a short holiday to lovely tropical Samoa I decided my garden was terribly drab. The next time I had anything to paint I'd choose the brightest colour. My blue garden seats in the small enclosed lawn by the Willow tree are the result.
Tree PeonyTree Peony...
I only have one tree peony in my garden - it was a gift from a friend, and initially suffered from being shifted around. In the spring of 2004, settled at last in the Willow Tree Garden, it flowered. What an exciting colour!
Wobbly Garden BenchWobbly Garden Bench...
A wobbly garden bench sits in the Willow Tree Garden facing away from the water race. It's set at the perfect angle for enjoying the mass plantings of nearby spring daffodils, and the roses and lupins which soon follow. But do I ever sit on it? Hmm...
Red Flowers in a Green GardenRed Flowers in a Green Garden...
The Willow Tree Garden is primarily a leafy, shrubby, green garden, but some of my most beautiful red flowering plants grow here. Pride of place in mid-summer is taken by a clump of hybrid large red daylilies.
GunneraGunnera...
Each area of the Moosey Garden along the water race has Gunnera growing in it. In the Willow Tree Garden these plants arrived from upstream as seeds, then chose a lovely spot on the edge of the garden to germinate and grow for me. How lovely! I'm so lucky - aren't I?
Rhododendrons by the WillowRhododendrons by the Willow...
My rhododendron garden, planted mainly with anonymous, unwanted shrubs, is really growing well in the dappled shade and shelter of the Willow tree. It only took a few seasons for a kaleidoscope of warm fruit-salad colours to appear in spring.
Cafe Garden FurnitureCafe Garden Furniture...
The Willow Tree Garden has the most elegant (and expensive) piece of garden furniture to be found in the Moosey Garden - an antique white cafe-style wrought iron table and two seats.
Willow Tree Garden BridgeWillow Tree Garden Bridge...
The Willow Tree Garden has a bridge! In the winter of 2008 a simple flat wooden bridge was built to connect the Willow Tree Gardens with the house lawns. I needed a direct route through to the gardens from my house and kitchen.
Cats Walking the PlankCats Walking the Plank...
The Plank marks the boundary between the Dog-Path Garden on the left and the new Willow Tree Garden on the right. The Head Gardener has fallen off it, and Rusty fell off when he was a puppy. But cats who walk the Plank always get to the other side...
Clary SageClary Sage...
The Willow Tree Garden, being open and sunny, houses some of my favourite large perennials. Each year in mid-summer the big Clary Sages grow tall and form flowers, surrounded by roses and foliage plants.
Garden LawnGarden Lawn...
It is very important when taking a photograph of the whole of one garden area that the sun is in the right place - and that the surrounding lawns are freshly mown! Here's such a view of the Willow Tree Garden - well, of most of it - and the resident lawnmower man.
Cats and DogsCats and Dogs...
The Willow Tree Garden's tree stumps are favourite resting places for the gardening cats. Smoocher the ginger cat and his sister Tiger loved to jump up and down the stumps, teasing Rusty the dog. There would be much barking...
Tree Stump and DaffodilsTree Stump and Daffodils...
Some of the remaining tree stumps in the Willow Tree Garden are still visible, waiting for the surrounding garden plantings to cover them up.
Blue DelphiniumsBlue Delphiniums...
This patch of blue delphiniums by the Willow Tree is well sheltered from the wind. The bees are attracted by their deep rich colours - it's rather noisy weeding around them when they are in summer bloom.
Secret LawnSecret Lawn...
At the back of the Willow Tree there's a small, enclosed lawn, which is delightfully warm (and shady) in summer. The surrounding rhododendrons have filled out and the Oak trees grown taller. So this lawn has become a secret, sheltered, special place in which to sit and dream.
Crab-Apple CharlotteCrab-Apple Charlotte...
Malus coronaria 'Charlottae', a crab-apple which I've been calling 'Charlotte', grows in the back of the Willow Tree Garden near the lawn. It's the only blossom tree in this garden, and late in spring is covered in semi-double shell-pink flowers.
Water Garden FernsWater Garden Ferns...
Ferns have taken up residence along the banks of the water race. They decide exactly where to grow and I let them live a natural life. These ferns are most welcome to spread along the water's edge.
Willow Tree Garden RosesWillow Tree Garden Roses...
Many reject roses have found a good country home in the airy spaces of the Willow Tree Garden. They might be rescued from a bare root rose end-of-season sale, or dug out of a friend's garden. Unwanted and unloved, they're given a fresh start.
The Old Wooden BridgeThe Old Wooden Bridge...
The water race, with water from the Waimakariri River, flows underneath the car bridge at the edge of the property. In the early days the car bridge was built from heavy wooden sleepers laid over the water. The rough old gate was kept as a sheep barrier...
Tree Stump DogTree Stump Dog...
Taj-dog is standing wistfully by three of the stumps over the water race. This is a photo from the Moosey archives, when this area was garden-free. Taj-dog has his eyes on something, probably Stephen, a cat or a bunny.
Tree Stump CamouflageTree Stump Camouflage...
This used to be one way to minimise the 'tree stumps in the lawn' look, by camouflaging an offender with a wheelbarrow. That was before my grand planting schemes for the Willow Tree Garden got under way.
Little John Taj-dogLittle John Taj-dog...
The Plank spans the water race and marks the beginning of the Willow Tree Gardens. The lawn used to be quite stumpy, until the gardens were developed to disguise the old tree remains. This is Taj-dog, the first Moosey dog, crossing the Plank.