Nelson’s garden of earthly delights
If you want to view a host of plants from around the globe in the one spot, you might like to visit Gardens of the World, a 2.4 hectare landscaped beauty in Nelson, which houses a mixed bag of herbs, shrubs, perennials and trees from New Zealand, Australia, Asia, America, Africa and Europe. Nothing unusual in that you might say – you may all have plants from these countries in your own backyard. But these plants are grouped geographically, so you physically walk the gardens of the world, and many are quite rare. Oldenbergia grandis, for example, is not often seen in New Zealand gardens. I have it in mine – but that’s the only garden I’ve seen it in. Except for Gardens of the World. That’s not to say it’s not in someone else’s garden – I’m sure it is. But you don’t often see it amongst the shrubbery of the ordinary Kiwi garden. The plant hails from South Africa and has large stiff leaves which have a woolly covering and velvety white undersides. It supposedly grows 3-5 metres, but mine, which I keep contained in a fairly small pot, has only grown a few centimetres in the past six or seven years. It probably tops only 1m high at present, so it’s unlikely to take over my garden. In cooler areas it’s best planted in pots. There are gorgeous ixias in the African section at Gardens of the World too, not the usual pink or purple sorts, but the palest bluewhite ones. Ixias are cormous plants that belong to the iris family and thrive in dry climates. In the African Garden (a particular favourite of garden creator Geoff Etherington who is from Africa himself) you’ll also find rare aloes and cacti. Further along we come to the American garden and an intriguing Monterey cypress ( Cupressus macrocarpa). This plant can be grown as a small lowspreading tree or even a ground cover. Geoff had trained it into a standard where its branches, spread out and hanging slightly, looked for all the world like a thatched umbrella. It would make the perfect shade tree, with a seat beneath and a cocktail in hand. There were giant white poppies, Romneya coulteri, which are also not commonly seen in New Zealand (you may find plants on Trade Me). They are one of the most regal poppies in the world, with their crepe-like petals and bright yellow stamens. These plants, also known as giant white California poppies, are herbaceous perennials native to the American southwest. They grow in river borders as well as dry stream beds, on open hillsides and fertile valleys. They flower from spring, the blooms reaching 15-20cm across and flower stalks topping 2m high. There is a European garden and an English rose garden, plus a fabulous herb garden, filled with both medicinal and culinary herbs. In bloom at the time was evening primrose ( Oenothera biennis), valerian ( Valeriana officinalis), comfrey and a yellow Leonotis leonurus. The Gardens are well worth a visit to spot beautiful and unusual plants. Sit beside the water garden and have a picnic, or have a drink beneath the thatched umbrella. Gardens of the World is listed on the National Garden Register and a recipient of a Garden of Distinction award.
Bright spots: Ixias are cormous plants that belong to the iris family.