SUE LINN visits self-confessed gardening junkie, Liz Clark in her thriving city garden.
A heathy obsession
F or Liz Clark gardening is both a passion and her therapy. She’s moved house many times, and wherever she goes, she gardens.
A CHILD OF THE SIXTIES
the days when central city living was and it was common to get by on a they were healthy. Liz and her sisters played a lot of sport and ate well from a large vegetable garden.
In those days the backyard was often Dad’s domain on weekends, was the gardener. Liz has vivid memories of her mother’s garden. “It was a typical sixties garden, very gardener with huge compost heaps. those volcanic soils with lots of huge rocks, but she was always out in it.
A garden was an everyday part of life for as long as she can remember, but Liz clearly love with nature’. Holidays were rare in those days so, beyond the bounds of the quarter acre section, her experience of nature was limited. Guide. “I absolutely loved the Girl
Guides. A camping trip to Waiheke Island was a life changing experience. for me it became a dream to live on an she developed a love of native plants.
GARDENING ON AN ISLAND
Liz’s knowledge of native plants came in handy when she and her husband Ron built their dream home wanted a garden plan featuring native
OPPOSITE PAGE, CLOCKWISE FROM
TOP LEFT: Mandevilla ‘Bubbles’ makes a beautiful fragrant hedge; Liz makes her own quirky garden sculptures; Liz’s well fed Bergenia ‘Bressingham White’ plants reward her with extra lush leaves; pottery as accents. THIS PAGE, clipped globes of Vibirnum ‘Eve Price’. plantings. Putting a garden plan on another adventure. “I decided I enjoyed it so much that I took myself she became close friends with an experienced landscape designer and together they spent many happy years designing and maintaining gardens for others.
As a consequence of her new design focus, Liz says her Waiheke garden was very disciplined.“It had a shape and that shape had to be maintained. I grew plants I didn’t really love in order to get the shapes laden winds and dry clay soil, and the fact that every plant had to be carried over on the ferry. “Planning was critical, says Liz. “You don’t indulge as much in impulse purchasing when you can’t just load the car up every time you come across something her may have been frustrated but “it was really good for me to learn that
THE CITY CHALLENGE
Liz and Ron moved back to the mainland eight years ago to be closer to family. It wasn’t easy for Liz to leave the garden she had poured so much creative energy into. “Our Waiheke home was the dream and we were home is a home and I always prepare it
But, not one to sit around moping, Liz wasted no time getting stuck into her new canvas, a clay slope around a sixties house on Auckland’s North smaller then her Waiheke paradise, but the biggest challenge she faces is the lack of privacy in an increasingly built up suburb. On the upside, she had
become used to gardening on clay so this well drained, deep clay loam is a gift. And being closer to garden centres makes it easier to indulge her passion for plants.
Liz’s current garden is a great example of a plant lover’s garden tamed by a designer’s eye. “One of the things that I learned, and to me it really works, is you can have a lot of what you want if mishmash by developing themes and the use of repetition. “I love globes. I repeat them throughout the garden. plants but they are giving that link
Lately there have been some major expanded both upwards and outwards. A large tree has been removed and so has a worn out ponga fence that used to divide her garden in two, providing her with a ‘secret garden’ where she could potter in complete privacy. But Liz
looks at the positives, regarding such changes as new design challenges with the prospect for more planting. like, constantly changing and never
‘Bubbles’ hedge is growing quickly to provide a screen along one boundary. already starting to create a sense of privacy. In spring their horizontal old ponga fence Ron is building a metre tall screen. A pergola covered walkway running along the retaining wall below it will add to the screening climbing plants.
is designed for easy maintenance, which leaves Liz to spend her time in the more private areas of her garden. Here she is experimenting with mass planted ground covers and some classic ‘mid century’ shrubs such as Coleonema ‘Sunset Gold’.
A NOD TO THE PAST
In reference to their sixties-built house, Liz likes to include retro plants would have planted, although foliage is her priority. “I am mad on edging terraced area nearest the house is a thriving vege garden. Like the rest of the garden it is a picture of health and vitality.
“To me, the biggest thing you can do to get plants growing is to keep the soil healthy.”
FEEDING THE SOIL
It’s important to Liz that her plants grow fast and vigorously. “If I don’t get them growing fast I might not get to see the biggest thing you can do to get plants her mother before her, Liz is a great believer in compost and uses lots of of it saying, “Compost is the be all and always keeps up to six bags in the shed ready to use. “It’s too hard for us to get
In spring and autumn she feeds the fertilisers, including lots of sheep pellets. farm. Ken uses the worm wee on the kitchen scraps. “I am no expert but I love recycling. We choose not to have a
Liz says she’s a bit of a maniac in the love and the nurturing of a garden is watering it. Our water bill escalates she explains. “I’d rather spend money has no desire for an automatic watering system as this only encourages over watering which she wants to avoid. “You can see what's happening when you
Contrasting foliage textures with grassy Lomandra and big leafed Farfugium japonicum Giganteum (syn. Ligularia reniformis).
Bergenias, or ‘Elephants ears’ are loved for their bold evergreen bonus in spring.
TOP LEFT: A globe of clipped Teucrium with violas and blue lobelia. ABOVE: A mirror adds an illusion of depth to make a small garden feel larger.