Stepping into the splendour and breathtaking surrounds of Queenstown artist and author Da’Vella Gore’s delightful sprawling cottage garden is like entering the grounds of an old English manor. But there’s nothing manicured or planned about this 4ha scenic sprawl. Clusters of flowers and trees have lovingly evolved around rock beds, waterfalls, ponds and a central stream. It’s taken 15 years of hard labour against very difficult odds to develop this exquisite Lake Hayes gem – one of the star gardens on the itinerary for this year’s Queenstown Plunket Garden Tour fundraiser on December 1. Colourful, perfumed plants line the picturesque hillside overlooking Lake Hayes – a spacious cottage garden surrounding the delightful Gothic chapel she created from recycled
Queenstown Plunket Garden Tour (self-drive)
Dec 1, 10am till 4pm
Meet at Queenstown Events Centre, 9.30am, for map distribution.
$25, includes Devonshire Tea and tour of eight gardens. Available from BNZ Remarkables Park and Queenstown branches, Harcourts, Queenstown Plunket or call Queenstown Plunket on 03 442 7380 for phone orders. interiors of historic South Island churches. Her dream project has been wonderful ‘‘healing therapy’’ after a serious car accident left her fighting for her life, confined for many months in a wheelchair then on crutches. Working with her son Wayne, the two have developed one of the Wakatipu’s most unrivalled wedding venues. A boutique vineyard borders his Medieval-style Stoneridge wedding reception venue, which has served as the perfect setting for filming the American television series, The Bachelor. A prominent artist turned author of six books, Gore has also officiated as celebrant at more than 1000 weddings. Her vast garden with its stunning views and authentic stone chapel set amid ponds and waterfalls, surrounded by roses and lavender, is the major attraction for wedding couples. ‘‘It’s essentially an English cottage garden. ‘‘The bedded irises, peony roses, lavender and roses are the flowers I love the most. ‘‘I just love the exquisite colour combinations,’’ she said. It’s been an uphill battle building up good quality soil. ‘‘I’ve had to mulch a lot because of the stony ground. It was freedraining gravelly soil when I came, hard to dig. It’s like rock in summer.’’ She’s battled every element imaginable, low-quality soil, low rainfall, rabbits and hard frosts. Plants that do well in a dry climate, such as lavenders, roses and her beloved bedded irises have thrived. Native kowhai, and bottlebrush trees with their beautiful red flowers, attract tui and bellbirds. ‘‘The bird song here in the mornings is just beautiful.’’ The artist in her is drawn to colour detail. ‘‘I’ve tried hard to concentrate on blues, mauves and violets. I also have quite a lot of white. It lifts a garden, as do silver-grey plants; they give a feeling of peace and rest.’’ Beautiful roses surround the chapel, their plucked petals ready in baskets to shower on happy couples. Tucked at the rear of the property, opening out from the wine tasting/ cafe area of her home is the delightfully, quaint Secret Garden with its peaceful, streaming waterfalls, rock gardens and pond. This re-opens for summer on November 23. ‘‘It’s a lovely little sheltered area where people love to enjoy our wine, barista coffee or a panini in the sun.’’ It’s been a hard-fought journey through five years of recovery and nine operations. ‘‘God gave me a vision right from day one. I didn’t have to labour or agonise over it. I give God the glory. I could never have done it without my faith,’’ she said. Nearing retirement age, she’s thrilled that she can now hand over the reins to her son to ‘‘carry on the dream’’.
A picture: Da’Vella with her beautiful peonies.
Rustic beauty: A stream leads to a pond beneath a stone bridge.
Special place: Da’Vella in front of the chapel in her