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Garden Visit #3
Vista Garden Tour - Rapaura Springs Garden Marlborough
I discovered there are many reasons for visiting a garden show. The curiosity of seeing a new garden or a much desired plant for the more seasoned attendees. The chance to learn about gardening for those that are newer and then there was me, there to take photos, purely for my own pleasure and learning. Of course on the first day of anything there is the general hustle and bustle of figuring out where to go and of course I sent myself in the wrong direction, eventually I figured out where to go and settled in to wait for the bus. I must confess to being one of those people who tend to stand back and watch and going on a tour is a brilliant space to people watch. There was a buzz about the place as we waited to board, as people figured out what they were doing and checking they had everything. There were the last minute loo stop and fabulous moments when old friends are reunited. Finally it was time for us to load ourselves on to the bus and off we went.
Kilbrook was the first garden we visited and for me the opening page to this gardening chapter. Alpacas greeted us and some of us wandered off in the wrong direction but once we were redirected it was a chance to immerse ourselves into a what the garden guide rightly noted ‘ a little piece of paradise’. The garden was a wonderful collection of natives and flowers, layered around a stream which naturally pulled you into the garden space. Areas for the veg garden and cut flowers were off to one side behind the hedge row acting like a lush green curtain, dividing the garden into rooms. It was a very textural garden with a wonderful shape to it and of course it was a peaceful space to be in. The vista across the stream was very pictorial with a beautiful line of trees (plus one duck very conveniently posing in the middle of my shot).
What I learnt: a lesson that was to be repeated in a number of gardens that I visited over the course of the trip, that water brings a special beauty to a garden space. It just adds a focus and a gentle spirit that I hope one day to have in my garden ( one can dream). I discovered a gorgeous lily which I have since learnt is a little on the invasive side of things. There was also a stunning dark crimson almost burnt red camellia that caught my eye. For me as someone who is yet to explore the use of shrubs in a garden ( I just work with what has been established) it was a great way to see them used in layers which was something repeated in other gardens.
Bee Friendly: One of my favorite things I love to look for what traveling is what plants bees are visiting. Here it was flax that was flowering. The hum was impressive.
The great thing with this half day tour was that it was a tour of contrast. Each garden was unique and each garden showed the personality of the gardener, which I loved to see. Longfield, after the cosy comfort of the garden at Kilbrook, was a strong contrast. The drive up to the house, hinted at to what to come as I looked across the paddock and there stood part of a temple column and a couple of Lions (concrete not real). It spoke of the grandeur that was to come. While the structured topiary and hedges along with the various sculptures added a majestic feel to the garden what I loved naturally was of the floral aspects and I was entranced by the many roses planted on mass in various corners of the garden. It added a softness and contrast to the sculpture and formal lines of the garden. My favourite thing will always be a scent of a flower stopping you in your tracks and this happened many times as I wandered around the garden
What I learnt: I was reminded of the power of mass planting and how amazing it looks when done a bigger scale than my garden. It is a fabulous expression. There was a marvelous line of blossom trees which again drew me in initially with the scent and then the you just kinda fall in love with the beauty of contract between the soft delicate pink flower heads of the blossom and the sculptures in the background. I also loved how drape was used in the garden with creeping roses and wisteria crawling up columns and this contrast was again repeated with espalier fruit trees against a brick wall.
Bee Friendly: For the bees it was all about the blossom. Who can argue with that.
The scale of achievement at Willows Green is impressive. From the street it was a cottage garden with a vibrant collection of roses surrounded by many treasures to form beautiful full borders. As you walked further into the garden you discovered that it extended down a hillside, with the garden trans versing from Rose wonderland to a hydrangea avenue (sadly not in flower). For me the garden was all about the roses and it was clear the gardener who had created this space over an 11 year period felt the same. The roses in my garden are just starting to crack and flower but further north they were putting on a mighty show. There were a number which were new to me, namely the marbled roses, almost like swirls of ice cream with raspberry and boysenberry colored roses.
What I learnt: The value of structure in the garden. Perhaps it was being behind a camera but you soon learnt to appreciate how a path, a bird bath, a archway all add to a garden and as someone who is walking through the garden it gave a direction to head. A valuable thing to remember when planting a new garden.
Bee friendly: the bees were loving the open blooming roses and I took one of my favourite photos of bee who almost looks like they are sitting up and having a cup of tea.
All in and all it was a fabulous start to the festival. The afternoon saw me head to a lecture given by the Land Gardeners on soil. It was so insightful and for me another piece of the puzzle to how I want to garden and how I can in my very small way do my bit to help ease the hurt we are causing the Earth. Their book Soil to table outlines most of what was covered in their talk as to does the Soil Management course on Creative Academy.