Touring Wairarapa gardens

I’ve just had a most pleasant weekend visiting eleven of Wairarapa’s best gardens, on a self-drive tour organised as a fundraiser for the Pukaha/Mt Bruce bird sanctuary. The gardens were spectacular, so was the weather and the green late-spring Wairarapa countryside was as lovely as you’d find anywhere in the country.

Our friends Dave and Angela had booked for themselves, then realised Angela would be at a conference all weekend. They offered the tickets to us, but Liz had a spinning workshop on both days. So Dave and I did the tour ourselves. I think we were the only male party, though a few other men were with their wives. Mostly it was a girls’ day out.

The eleven gardens were spread from Featherston in the south to the hills east of Masterton. There were a few old churches and chapels on the tour as well.

Here are some of the highlights:

Brancepeth Station near Wainuioru in the hill country east of Masterton. The present building dates from the 1890s, though the station was established in 1856. It was once one of New Zealand’s largest sheep stations, with 31,000 hectares, a staff of over 300, and a permanent population of over 100. The grounds are magnificent, with grand established trees and more intimate plantings of shrubs and flowers. Not as polished as some of the other gardens we saw, but still a highlight of the tour.

Brancepeth Station near Wainuioru in the hill country east of Masterton. The present building dates from the 1890s, though the station was established in 1856. It was once one of New Zealand’s largest sheep stations, with 31,000 hectares, a staff of over 300 and a permanent population of over 100. The grounds are magnificent, with grand established trees and more intimate plantings of shrubs and flowers. Not as polished as some of the other gardens we saw, but still a highlight of the tour. This, and the other photos, can be enlarged by double-clicking or double-tapping.

Garden tour people at Brancepeth

Brancepeth

Red maple and canna lilies at Brancepeth.

Red maple and canna lilies at Brancepeth.

Sheep grazing in a grass and plantain pasture next door to the Abbotsford Garden.

Sheep grazing on grass and plantain pasture next door to the Abbotsford Garden.

Wairarapa Garden Tour 2015-Abbotsford 017

The 155 year old renovated homestead at Abbotsford Garden, on the Masterton-Castlepoint Road.

Wisteria on the veranda, Abbotsford Garden.

Wisteria-fringed verandah, Abbotsford Garden.

Texture and colour, Abbotsford Garden.

Texture and colour, Abbotsford Garden.

McDonald Garden near Masterton. Lovely garden, unfortunately spoiled by tacky ornaments and 'sculptures'.

McDonald Garden near Masterton. Lovely garden, unfortunately spoiled by tacky ornaments and ‘sculptures’. The aquilegia (aka granny’s bonnet or columbine) in the foreground was popular here and in most of the other gardens.

Tarata Garden.

Tarata Garden.

Thurston Garden, a professionally landscaped garden on 1.1 hectares for former olive orchard.

Thurston Gardens, professionally landscaped on 1.1 hectares of former olive orchard.

Thurston Gardens.

Thurston Gardens.

Wairarapa Garden Tour 2015-Tarata Garden 12

Thurston Gardens.

Wairarapa Garden Tour 2015-Thurston Gardens 03

Magnolia blossom, Thurston Gardens.

 

Wycroft Vineyard, west of Masterton.

Wycroft Vineyard, west of Masterton.

The garden at Summit Lodge in Gladstone was a bare paddock six years ago. It is designed as a low-maintenance garden that needs little water over summer, and can cope with poor soil and an extreme climate with hot dry summers and frosty winters.

Summit Lodge in Gladstone was a bare paddock six years ago. The garden is designed for low maintenance, needing little water over summer and coping with an extreme climate with hot dry summers and frosty winters. The California poppies were a welcome sight – we knew them well when we lived in Central Otago.

Summit Lodge.

Summit Lodge.

Summit Lodge.

Summit Lodge.

Summit Lodge.

Summit Lodge.

Fernside, near Featherston, was one of the big attractions and it didn't let us down. The large 20 acre 20 acre Edwardian English country garden had its start in 1890 and has been further developed by a variety of owners since that time.

Fernside, near Featherston, was one of the main garden tour attractions and it didn’t let us down. The 20 acre country garden in Edwardian English style began life in 1890 and has been further developed by a variety of owners.

Sweeping lawns and long-established trees are a feature of Fernside. The large tree on the left is a linden.

Sweeping lawns and long-established trees are a feature. The large tree on the left is a linden (aka lime).

The lake at Fernside.

The lake at Fernside.

Fernside Garden.

Fernside Garden.

We were welcomed to Fernside by a pair of peacocks.

We were welcomed to Fernside by a pair of peacocks.

 

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