A garden designed for the future
This weekend hundreds of people will make their way round some of Marlborough’s top gardens as part of the celebrated Nelmac Garden Marlborough. On show this year is Karamu, a beautiful garden belonging to Rosanne and Atholl Anderon. Sophie Preece reports.
Apair of cheeky fantails flit nearby as Rosanne Anderson walks down her garden path. Riotous masses of colour erupt from the flower beds beside her, while hundreds of honey bees nuzzle their way to pollen.
A tight line of cabbage trees separates this bright corridor from the deep, dense green of the native bush beyond, where Rosanne and her husband Atholl have planted thousands of trees to tempt tui and bellbird, along with piwakawaka like these.
Karamu will be open to the public for the first time this weekend, as part of a new Nelmac Garden Marlborough tour, but eight years ago, this flourishing ecosystem was a treeless horse paddock amid the surrounding landscape of vines.
Rosanne is an early childhood educator, and Atholl an archaeologist, academic and writer who co-authored Tangata Whenua: An Illustrated History, winner of the Illustrated Nonfiction prize at the Ockham Book Awards last year. The couple hail from the South Island, but lived in Canberra before moving to Marlborough in 2008, tempted by the climate and the sailing.
‘‘The lush country of New Zealand was a delight to return to and a garden with native bush was on the wish-list,’’ says Rosanne. ‘‘But that’s not so easy to find when you go looking to buy a house. So we thought, ‘Right, we’ll grow the bush.’’’
They bought a hectare of land on O’Dwyers Rd and resolved to build an eco-friendly solar passive house with ‘‘wild’’ perennials at its feet and a boundary of vibrant bush, offering privacy and a pocket of diversity among the vines.
The flower beds were inspired by Dutch gardener Piet Oudolf whose naturalistic gardens include bold swathes of herbaceous perennials and grasses, as beautiful in dormancy as they are in full colour. ‘‘I loved the style and thought, ‘That’s what I want,’’’ says Rosanne. ‘‘Then you get this big blank hectare of land and you go, ‘I don’t quite know how to do this.’’’ So Christchurch landscape architect Robert Watson created a broad plan with natives, flowers, vegetable beds and fruit trees, all anchored by a stretch of path heading straight to the north with 20m-long beds of perennials on either side.
The plan gave Rosanne the confidence to tackle the space, starting with her flowers, which have filled in beautifully. She grows seedlings and divides plants, but generally restricts selfseeding to ensure there are big patches of colour instead of ‘‘freckles’’.
The house faces north and is designed with large expanses of glass and internal heat sinks to make it energy efficient.