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  • Writer's pictureJill Simpson

Our changing garden

Every year before it gets too hot and dry there is a rush to plant and complete areas of the garden.

I’m never sure if I will finish in time. I rarely do. This is even more the case this year as I have decided on a new direction for the garden.

Years ago we made a decision to-plant the main structural plantings in our garden with trees and shrubs native to New Zealand and so because of the nature of New Zealand plants it has meant there are fewer seasonal differences to celebrate within the garden. This is a land of wonderful evergreen and unusual textural plants but there are no real herbaceous flowering plants from New Zealand. Our beautiful alpine flowering plants don’t like our lowland coastal position.

NZ native Hebes or Veronicas do flower in abundance and I have tried planting big areas of these as a tapestry of flowers and foliage types but I have never really been entirely happy with the result. It takes years for them to grow and as with all plants some grow just a bit too well. The word thug is not too strong for some and others with a shorter lifespan just die. Unfortunately removing even just one leaves an unsightly hole in the planting. Some will regrow when cut but it takes years not just one growth season as is the case with perennials. I still love them but my planting approach is changing.

That is not to say I hadn’t already been using herbaceous perennials and bulbs as well as other flowering trees and shrubs in large areas. But I was keeping our native plants somewhat separate. Either in an area entirely of native or as a background. We are surrounded by our native plants in their natural places on the farm and in our areas of protected forest. They seed everywhere in the garden and where they have been able to grow I’ve left some of them to give an element of random but sometimes it’s hard to see things in abundance around you in a different way.

I want the garden to blend into the natural world around it and I’m influenced by gardens from all over the world. Using plants from New Zealand amoungst the new plantings where a perhaps a Mediterranean plant might be used elsewhere I hope to make the garden of its place. So those grey twiggy tangled shrubs from the hillsides outside the garden are more and more becoming components of the garden. I’m thinking I will trim some. But sometimes it’s their shaggy twiggy shapes that make them beautiful.

This really is my new direction for the garden. While New Zealand natives will still remain the largest component of the plantings they will be mingling more with other plants from all over the world. This of course is a learning experience one of trial and error and of looking for plants to add to what we have here So while the images I have included are only of native plantings in the future there will be more to see from all over the world mixed in with these plantings.

In a small way I have been working on this by changing some evergreen plantings and in some areas like my large perennial plantings I’m trying to think beyond just adding a few native grasses. It’s definitely a work in progress.

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