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
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