Heirloom hedges shel­ter a rose­filled gar­den from the ex­tremes of North Can­ter­bury’s weather.

An heirloom macro­carpa hedge pro­vides pro­tec­tion from the ex­tremes of North Can­ter­bury’s weather

NZ House & Garden - - CONTENTS - WORDS SUE ALLISON PHO­TO­GRAPHS JULIET NI­CHOLAS

Lega­cies come in many forms but for a gar­dener in windswept North Can­ter­bury there could be no greater in­her­i­tance than a craggy macro­carpa hedge. “We call it “Old Stead­fast”, says Meg Mac­far­lane of the shel­ter planted by her hus­band’s aunt and un­cle in 1961.

When that young cou­ple ar­rived at Wai­hui, part of a larger fam­ily farm in the Hu­runui, there was just a lit­tle brown cot­tage in a bare pad­dock with a lone tank stand. Over the next 30 years they planted trees and dug a gar­den around the house, all in the lee of the all-pro­tec­tive hedge.

Meg and Tom, also newly-weds, in­her­ited the prop­erty in 1991. “It was up to us, a Syd­ney city girl and her not-so-en­thu­si­as­tic young hus­band to make our own mark on the house and gar­den,” says Meg. Nearly an­other three decades on and the “cot­tage”, cur­rently in the throes of its third ren­o­va­tion, looks over a pageant of form and colour from knot gar­dens burst­ing with roses to mounded na­tives in­ter­spersed with rhodo­den­drons. A pair of re­tired polo ponies graze a park-like pad­dock of young oaks in the back­ground and a grove of sil­very gums are a nod to Meg’s roots. “Tom planted them for me when we were first mar­ried.”

Meg may have been born in the city but a stint as a jil­la­roo in her teens left her hooked on ru­ral life. She went on to study agri­cul­ture and met her Kiwi hus­band when they were both work­ing on an Aus­tralian cot­ton farm. They run Wai­hui, a sheep and beef farm near Rother­ham, as a team of four with sons Dan, 25, an agri­cul­tural pi­lot, and Tim, 21, who is study­ing at Lin­coln Univer­sity.

The land­scape around the farm, which sits be­tween the Wa­iau River and Lowry Peaks Range, is spec­tac­u­lar, but gar­den­ing here is not for the faint-hearted. The nor’west blasts start in spring and the dry sum­mer heat can hit the high 30s. >

‘My mother al­ways said it only takes one hand to knock on a door,’ says Meg, who makes a point of car­ry­ing a bunch of roses or pro­duce in the other when vis­it­ing friends. She also grows lilies in the veg­etable gar­den, purely for pick­ing

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