Keen gardeners know that you can’t buy time. That’s something that trees and gardens need to become established and meld into each other.
Two-years ago, Will Neill and Sarah Silveria moved to Taranaki from Palmerston North. They were seeking to live somewhere quieter, but still wanted to be close to town. They found that property at 33 Barclay Rd at Okaiawa; a small village 13 kilometres west of Hawera, and just 7.5kms from Matapu Primary School. The 1.2141-hectare property’s drawcard was a stunning garden surrounding a three-bedroom villa.
‘‘We loved it as soon as we saw it,’’ Sarah says. ‘‘We experience a country lifestyle, but are close to the coast and town, too. Oaiawa is a tight-knit community where everyone looks out for each other. When we first moved in, one of our neighbours arrived with his tractor to see if we needed any help.’’
Will and Sarah love living close to the coast, and down here it has a reputation for great sea fishing; especially rock fishing and beach surfcasting. Ohawe Beach is a great spot for both fishing and swimming; and it’s only a seven-minute drive away.
It’s not difficult to see why Will and Sarah fell in love with the gardens. You know you’ve got a pretty sharp-looking garden when visitors say ‘‘Your garden is like a park’’.
The garden provides a succession of yearlong colour. The established trees, perennials and rose garden impart an English gardenlike charm. Even in the dead of winter, there is always some colour to brighten up the day.
‘‘The rose garden is my favourite; even though I don’t know the names of half of them,’’ says Sarah. ‘‘We often drag the big outdoor table to the rose garden to sit amongst the roses and admire the beautiful mountain view. When the cherry trees are in blossom it almost looks like it’s snowing.’’
The informality of the roses is a contrast to the neatly trimmed box hedges and manicured lawns.
A large paulownia tree puts on a vibrant purple display during spring, and performs double duty by shading the kid’s tree hut, tyre-swings and sandpit. Sarah loves her little wildflower garden that erupts with vivid blue cornflowers and tall cosmos swaying back and forth in the summer breeze.
‘‘We also have citrus and apple trees,’’ she points out. ‘‘Our large raised vege gardens can tend to run amok, because we never seem to be able to keep up with the produce.’’
Will and Sarah have modernised their villa in a style that is sympathetic to its vintage.
‘‘The interior was a bit dated; but didn’t need massive renovation. We’ve kept the original ceilings and wooden features to retain the character. When we needed to change things we added in more native timber.’’
The kitchen has been renovated in a modern country farm style and features a large gas stove, ample bench space and a breakfast bar. The lounge-dining room sliding doors open out onto a sheltered porch overlooking the lawn and garden. The high ceilings impart an open airy feel, enhanced by the light that washes in through the large wooden sash windows.
The original decorative plaster and wooden ceilings have been retained, along with the wide wooden skirting boards. Each wooden door features the original brass door handles and decorative brass, tulip-patterned plaques.
The polished wooden floors that were once hidden beneath a dated turquoise carpet are now a highlight of the completed renovation.
The main lounge features one of the decorative wooden ceilings and a brick woodfire surround. The room opens onto a wraparound deck and the lawn and rose garden.
All bedrooms haves built-in wardrobes and a garden view. The master bedroom features a bay window that perfectly frames the garden and Mount Taranaki.
‘‘We have two wood stoves, an HRV, and a large heat pump,’’ Sarah notes. ‘‘I work as vet. During a busy spring, it’s especially handy to be able to turn on the heat pump when you arrive home; because you don’t always feel like building a fire.’’
The sheltered property has stockyards, a vet race and 12 well-fenced paddocks. Three of the paddocks are able to be harvested for hay and silage.
A lifestyle property can never have too much storage; and Will and Sarah’s property doesn’t disappoint. The disused Okaiawa Bowling Club rooms provide amble watertight storage and a working kitchen. They have also built-in a piggery, calf pens and a chicken coop. The ‘‘storage’’ pie`ce de re´sistance must be the 135sqm garage. It accommodates four parked cars, and incorporates an office-sleepout, a lockable storage area and a large workbench.
‘‘Will’s family live in Taupo,’’ Sarah says in explaining their decision to sell this property. ‘‘I was offered a position there, so we decided to move closer to his family. We wish we were able to pick up this entire property and take it with us.
‘‘Our large three-bedroom home has villa character with modern living. Here, you can have a lifestyle with animals; but the property isn’t so big that it becomes overwhelming. It would make an ideal home for a family with young children. When we bought the property that’s what we saw it as; a great place to raise a family.’’