Akaroa Garden Tour 1

I am back from a two-day Garden Club trip to Akaroa. What an experience! Weather-wise I've experienced four seasons in one day, and garden-wise six gardens in two days. It's been a trip of total contrasts.

I've seen shrubberies full of native New Zealand plants, and borders where the only plants are rhododendrons. I've walked around garden borders choked with weeds. I've lingered in gardens where even the mulch looked elegant.

Mown Lawns!

Freshly mown lawns were the only thing that our garden hosts had in common. This is THE MOST IMORTANT THING - quickly zoom around with the mower, and the busload of ladies are more than satisfied. 'Look how nicely the garden has been prepared' they comment, cream-topped scone in hand. Hmm...

 With a carpet of white pebbles.
Single Rose by Stone Table

Garden no. 1 - Classic Canterbury Country

Garden no. 1 was classic Canterbury country - roses near the house, and rhododendrons underplanted with hostas further away. It was well sheltered and irrigated, and a good starting point for two days of inspirational visiting. The lawns were perfect!

Garden no. 2 - New Zealand Plants

Garden no. 2 was a designer original, situated on a bleak finger of land on the peninsula. New Zealand natives were everywhere - this gardener was a landscape architect, fond of triangles of mass spiky plants (astelias, flaxes, libertia) and lines of hebes.

 A beautifully landscaped set of wide garden steps.
New Zealand Native Plants

Cordylines jostled with a New Zealand flag in front of the ocean view. Rock, cliffs and the hazy sea below created extraordinary vistas. This garden understood that the Pacific Ocean view came first - the planting scheme was clean and uncluttered.

 Not one but two iconic images of New Zealand!
New Zealand Flag and Cordyline

The hebes were heavenly - this coastal garden grows over a hundred different varieties, with one in flower every single week of the year. Hebes can be misunderstood (and often ignored) in ornamental New Zealand gardens, but they are so well equipped to cope with wind.

 Hebes are lovely shrubs.
White Flowering Hebe

I loved meeting another gardener who gets such joy out of native plants. The New Zealand cordyline spikes against the sky, of course, are simply iconic!

 What a tremendous setting for a garden.
The Peninsula Garden

Our buses slowly wiggled their way back to Akaroa and our accomodation. Terrible news - all the gift and craft shops had shut early! Thus ended the first day of the Garden Tour. But wait - there's more...