Q&A

NZ House & Garden - - GARDENS -

Hours spent in the gar­den: I spend about five to six hours a week, al­though not so many in win­ter. I read some­where that the best thing you can do for your gar­den in win­ter is to stay out of it. So I do. (Jean) Wa­ter­ing and light­ing: The new ir­ri­ga­tion sys­tem comes on for an hour a day at 6am un­less the rain sen­sor tells it oth­er­wise. We con­trol wa­ter­ing and light­ing us­ing apps on phone and iPad. (Paul)

Most used tool: Bat­tery-op­er­ated hedge trim­mers and shears. (Jean)

Best ed­i­ble crop: Around the back of the garage, I grow toma­toes and basil in a Vege­pod, a raised gar­den bed with a self-wa­ter­ing cover. (Jean)

The thing I’ve learned about gar­den­ing: Keep at it. Don’t give weeds a chance. (Jean)

Our favourite sea­son: The sil­hou­ettes of the palm fronds look amaz­ing in sum­mer. And we spend lots of time sit­ting out here. (Paul)

Jean and Paul Byrnes

Steps from the lower part of the gar­den lead to tiled court­yards around the house. There’s a hand­some wide-screen foun­tain that you can see from in­side the liv­ing room, and hear its sooth­ing gur­gles when the bi­fold win­dows are pulled back.

The main en­ter­tain­ing area is on the north­ern bound­ary, with a mar­ble ta­ble and gas fire with a raised hearth; it’s drenched in sun all af­ter­noon, the bet­ter for Rocco’s sun­bathing plea­sure.

The court­yard is pri­vate, quiet and shel­tered from sea breezes or any lurk­ing cold-hearted sou’west­erly. In fact, says Jean, there is al­ways some­where shel­tered in the gar­den which­ever way the wind is blow­ing.

Be­fore open­ing their gar­den to visi­tors dur­ing the Auck­land Gar­den De­sign Fest last Novem­ber, the Byrnes did some tweak­ing (plants) and up­dat­ing (ir­ri­ga­tion and light­ing).

Thorny dwarf date palms (Phoenix roe­be­lenii) were given the heave-ho. “I was not un­happy to see them go,” says Jean, who was sick of crawl­ing around them kit­ted out in gog­gles and head­gear. Their bay tree re­place­ments are much more ap­proach­able.

Apart from the rain lilies and the fra­grant miche­lia which have tiny white blooms, Jean does have one other flow­ery plant, a climb­ing ‘Ice­berg’ rose. And you guessed it, it’s pure white.

THIS PAGE (from left) The orig­i­nal rock wall was built about 90 years ago by an English im­mi­grant who had worked at Lon­don’s Kew Gar­dens; lo­cal stone­ma­son Dave Milina of Sus­tain­able Land­scapes re­built it sub­stan­tially us­ing ex­ist­ing rocks and ex­tra rocks from a Far North farm. N kau trunks with hy­drangeas be­hind. The large bronze urn planted in suc­cu­lents was im­ported from Mel­bourne.OPPOSITE Curvy pony­tail palms re­peat the swoop­ing lines of the el­e­gant stair­case; Jean and Paul chose trees that would never crowd out the house or ob­scure gar­den views from the up­stairs ve­ran­dah.

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