REAL GAR­DENER

SUE LINN vis­its self-con­fessed gar­den­ing junkie, Liz Clark in her thriv­ing city gar­den.

Go Gardening - - EDITORIAL -

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.

FIND­ING NA­TURE

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

WA­TER­ING WELL

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.

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