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. This, and the other photos, can be enlarged by double-clicking or double-tapping.
Red maple and canna lilies at Brancepeth.
Sheep grazing on grass and plantain pasture next door to the Abbotsford Garden.
The 155 year old renovated homestead at Abbotsford Garden, on the Masterton-Castlepoint Road.
Wisteria-fringed verandah, Abbotsford Garden.
Texture and colour, Abbotsford Garden.
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.
Thurston Gardens, professionally landscaped on 1.1 hectares of former olive orchard.
Magnolia blossom, Thurston Gardens.
Wycroft Vineyard, west of Masterton.
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.
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. The large tree on the left is a linden (aka lime).
The lake at Fernside.
We were welcomed to Fernside by a pair of peacocks.