Es­cal­lo­nia arch

NZ House & Garden - - GARDENS -

To cre­ate the arch­way in the es­cal­lo­nia hedge, Meg let side pieces grow up then tied them to­gether over the gap with bal­ing twine. “Af­ter that it was a com­bi­na­tion of weav­ing in new growth and trim­ming it to shape.” Meg finds es­cal­lo­nia more com­pli­ant than buxus as it doesn’t bruise.

Au­tumn brings some respite be­fore win­ter’s souther­lies kick in and tem­per­a­tures can drop as low as -15°C. “We also get east­er­lies that bring a hint of the sea over the moun­tain range that bor­ders the farm,” says Meg.

And then there are the ex­otic in­vaders. “We have trou­ble with hares, gorse and old man’s beard, but black­berry is prob­a­bly my big­gest night­mare,” says Meg, who reg­u­larly sends Tom into the macro­carpa hedge with an axe to at­tack the barbed men­ace. To cap it off, the clay soils have to be con­stantly con­di­tioned. “Ev­ery year for the past 27 years I’ve bought $2000 worth of peas­traw and spread it over the gar­den.”

That’s more pro­duc­tive than a gym mem­ber­ship and drag­ging ir­ri­ga­tors around sup­ple­ments the work­out. “We’re lucky to be able to hook into the farm ir­ri­ga­tion sys­tem,” says Meg, a ru­ral busi­ness man­ager who works from home and finds mov­ing hoses a good ex­cuse to es­cape from the of­fice. “Our sprin­klers have a throw of about 50 me­tres and I have one go­ing some­where ev­ery day from late spring through to au­tumn. We used to have un­der­ground piped ir­ri­ga­tion but I was al­ways dig­ging it up.”

Meg can still re­call the day when the first seed was sown for her love of gar­den­ing. “My par­ents weren’t gar­den­ers, but I can re­mem­ber my father dig­ging up a piece of con­crete to plant a tree and be­ing fas­ci­nated that there was dirt un­der there and a plant could grow in it.” >

Hours per week in the gar­den: A day a week in July and Au­gust but two to four from Septem­ber through to April. (Meg)

As few as pos­si­ble. (Tom)

Most sig­nif­i­cant plant: My ‘San­ders White’ rose cas­cades like a wa­ter­fall and has quite taken over in the past 25 years. (Meg)

Big­gest gar­den­ing mis­take: Putting in so many hedges. (Tom)

Do you open your gar­den to the pub­lic? This year we are one of 21 gar­dens open for the Hu­runui Gar­den Fes­ti­val on the first week­end of Novem­ber. We also open for pri­vate tours by ap­point­ment. (Meg) Meg and Tom Mac­far­lane

Her sub­se­quent en­light­en­ment has largely been through trial and er­ror. “Orig­i­nally we were too poor to buy plants so I begged bits from friends and put in huge peren­nial bor­ders.” Their death knell was sounded when she was heav­ily preg­nant and had to rope in Tom to help with the dead­head­ing. “What­ever peo­ple say about roses, I think they are a lot less work than peren­ni­als,” says Meg, who has ar­ranged mass plant­ings of her beloved roses in a loose colour wheel of au­tum­nal hues. Beyond them, a pair of con­trast­ing gar­dens fea­ture cool and hot colours, with lime-green un­der­tones link­ing the beds.

“I’m more a vis­ual per­son than a plantswoman,” says Meg, who takes in­spi­ra­tion from Aus­tralian land­scape de­signer Paul Ban­gay, es­pe­cially in her use of hedg­ing and top­i­aries. “Noth­ing is mea­sured or dead level though Tom is a lot neater than me. I of­ten leave them when they’re cov­ered in fresh growth be­cause they look so lush and green.”

The gar­den is de­signed as a series of con­vivial liv­ing rooms and the Mac­far­lanes host sev­eral events a year from fash­ion pa­rades to end-of-year par­ties. “In sum­mer, we al­ways have tea or lunch in the gar­den,” says Meg. “The boys still know the drill. When they come home, they make tea and carry it out un­der the trees.”

Like the gar­den’s fore­bears, Meg has planted with fu­ture gen­er­a­tions in mind and re­sisted the temp­ta­tion to ex­tend fur­ther into the pad­docks. “I haven’t made the gar­den big­ger than a hectare be­cause I don’t want to put a noose around my chil­dren’s necks.”

THIS PAGE (from top) Meg and Tom Mac­far­lane and black labrador Texas.Rhodo­den­dron ‘Whit­ney’s Dou­ble Or­ange’ adds coral flashes to a tex­tured gar­den with Poa cita grasses among mounded hebes in­clud­ing ‘Odora’, ‘Cock­ay­ni­ana’ and ‘Emer­ald Gem’, top­i­arised balls of Nan­d­ina do­mes­tica ‘Fire­power’, large red phormium and smaller striped dwarf New Zealand flaxes; the sculp­ture is an early work by Collinswood De­signs: “Tom and I are now the short ones in the mid­dle,” says Meg.OP­PO­SITE Cherry-red pots flank the arch­way in the es­cal­lo­nia hedge: “I’ve planted them with an as­sort­ment of trail­ing gera­ni­ums in the past but this year they’re go­ing to be pot­ted up with ‘Lit­tle Ras­cal’ minia­ture ap­ples,” says Meg.

THIS PAGE Re­tired polo ponies Flo and Lo­tus re­lax among young pin oaks in the new park area; pill­box top­i­arised pit­tospo­rum lines the path and an old var­ie­gated elm is un­der­planted with a low griselinia hedge.OP­PO­SITE (from top) Flaxes and cab­bage trees add struc­ture to the na­tive gar­den around the car park area, with a back­drop of ex­otic pin oaks and rowan trees. A carved wooden sculp­ture from Collinswood De­signs sits be­tween a cab­bage tree and golden to­tara.

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