Cen­tral Otago

Gar­den­ing in the Man­iototo is chal­leng­ing, and we are al­ways aware of the dif­fer­ent con­di­tions and mi­cro­cli­mates within our large basin.

NZ Gardener - - CONTENTS -

The cli­mate that makes Jane Fal­coner an ex­treme gar­dener… of sorts

Sur­rounded on all sides by moun­tains, lo­cal gar­den al­ti­tudes vary from 350m to 610m. Rain­fall ranges from 250mm to 600mm an­nu­ally – a wide range cou­pled with sea­sonal tem­per­a­tures that fluc­tu­ate from -25ºC de­grees in win­ter to 35ºC in sum­mer. So spring is in­deed a spe­cial sea­son for us and ap­pre­ci­ated so much af­ter the ex­treme win­ter we so of­ten ex­pe­ri­ence.

The sound of the lawn­mower and the smell of fresh grass her­ald that spring has ar­rived, and the wel­come bird song and paradise ducks on the pond com­plete the pic­ture. Blos­soms and bulbs, along with warm sunny days, are good for us all.

Clachan­burn is a two-hectare gar­den fac­ing the north­east.

At that bound­ary sits a long ha-ha which al­lows amaz­ing views to the dis­tant Kakanui Moun­tains. The ha-ha is 2m high to keep the elk deer out of the gar­den.

Here, wa­ter is the gar­den‘s greatest as­set, but tim­ing is ev­ery­thing and not al­ways con­trol­lable. Ir­ri­ga­tion al­lows

some con­trol but to wa­ter or not to wa­ter? How ben­e­fi­cial is wa­ter­ing be­fore the sun­shine and warmth come? The de­bate goes on. While there is still con­sid­er­able snow on the moun­tains, we will get frosts – so do you want to be pil­ing on wa­ter and en­cour­ag­ing new growth only to run the risk of los­ing it? I am hand-wa­ter­ing new plants which must not die and, if in a very dry place some­thing is look­ing like need­ing a drink, I give it one.

But na­ture has the last say. Ex­ces­sive rain has caused our gar­den creek to rage and read­ers will have seen on the news the dam­age the Taieri River has had down­stream all the way to the Taieri Plain near Dunedin.

Still, it can­not be de­nied that a good rain fol­lowed by mulch does won­ders for the gar­den. Au­tumn leaves had been racked into piles, with am­mo­nia of sul­phate sprin­kled into them to help them de­com­pose quicker. They were cov­ered with open wo­ven cloth and pegged down, and now make a won­der­ful mulch once spread out. Lawn clip­pings thinly spread on top is good too. The blos­som trees flour­ish in large shrub­beries where this prac­tice is ap­plied.

I have malus as well as prunus va­ri­eties.

The malus have the ad­van­tage of pro­duc­ing crabap­ples in au­tumn and make lovely jelly. I have early, mid and late flow­er­ing trees to give blos­soms from early Septem­ber well into Novem­ber.

The pot­ted gera­ni­ums stay in the glasshouse un­til the snow has dis­ap­peared.

Even then, we cover them at night if a frost is imminent. We can be caught out with late frosts in Novem­ber, which do more dam­age than in win­ter be­cause of the new growth.

I love shar­ing the gar­den with vis­i­tors.

I of­ten learn more from them than they do from me! Gar­den­ers are gen­er­ous with their knowl­edge and I am for­ever swap­ping notes.

The ques­tion I am most of­ten asked if I have help in the gar­den. Yes I do! Mir­a­cle Mar­got comes once a week. We live in a cli­mate with four dis­tinct sea­sons; each has its own beauty and here at Clachan­burn, I have tried to de­sign and plant to make the most of our site all year. Gar­den cot­tage vis­i­tors stay­ing over the week­end have re­turned to en­joy the gar­den in another sea­son. One group had stayed in au­tumn and re­turned re­cently, so I asked them when they think the gar­den is at its best. They said they had been blown away by our au­tumn splen­dour, and now to see the spring flow­ers with snow on the moun­tains is equally breath­tak­ing.

Vis­i­tors to the Man­iototo find it unique.

The vast­ness, the scenery, the peace… and may it stay so, please. Clachan­burn is reg­is­tered with the New Zealand Gar­den Trust as a Gar­den of Na­tional Sig­nif­i­cance.

Each dis­tinct sea­son ex­pe­ri­enced at Clachan­burn comes with its own chal­lenges.

The ha-ha keeps deer off the prop­erty.

Spring flow­ers are a wel­come sight af­ter win­ter.

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