Waikanae is rated as true Mediterranean. There are some frosts outside of the “garden area’’ of the town and blustery north-westerlies in October/November.
Rich soil through the addition of large quantities
The ligularia range used as a ground cover and corner fillers.
When planting, spend more time preparing the hole, both in width and depth, and adding the best ingredients to suit your new plant.
An adjustable metal prong-head rake – great for clearing up the two million or so fallen camellia flowers each season.
Camellias, rhododendrons, vireyas, hydrangeas, roses, clematis, maples, magnolias, olives and avocados.
Scarlet runner beans, tomatoes
Once the soil was rejuvenated, an architect was engaged for a canny and thrifty transformation of what was a 70s cream brick bungalow. A priority was large paved outdoor rooms. One area outside the dining room can sit up to 50, and often does. The Cubitts enjoy hosting regular visits from gardening clubs: up to 2000 people a year come to see their garden.
Did they have an initial design plan? “Not a plan,” says Malcolm, laughing. “It is a matter of looking at an area and what will go there.’’ This is a bit of an understatement, given the lush sanctuary they have created, with stunning foliage contrasts and glowing colour combinations, such as a bright red rhododendron alongside maples and a mandarin tree.
“It is a ‘busy’ style, I suppose,’’ he says. “Certainly not English Country.” He pauses for a moment: “It is an active, growing conglomeration of totally interesting plants!’’
The bare beds underneath the camellias were built up and underplanted with hydrangeas, daphne, rhododendrons and more, plus clematis and abutilon for the birds. Curving lawns surround the rear of the property and secret paths wind behind the tall shady beds, edged with liriope and salvias and a neat buxus hedge. An old shade house has been transformed into a pergola planted with the climbing roses ‘Sally Holmes’ and ‘Summer Wine’.
Although they enjoy having a garden full of seasonal colour and change, it is not a low-maintenance option. Malcolm estimates he sweeps up a staggering 2.1 million spent camellia