Another strong favourite from the Taranaki Garden Festival was Puketarata. Created by its owners, Ken and Jennifer Horner, over 35 years, it has that wonderful, but usually elusive, ambience of ‘just meant to be’.
This is no mean feat, given the huge range of native and exotic plants blended together, along with extensive views of the surrounding countryside to the north east and west, which are fully integrated into the plan.
The Horners have created a number of garden rooms, which broadly follow individual themes. There is the room bursting with roses and perennial colour, there are the clipped box parterres filled with poppies, the armillary sculpture with surrounding climbers and borders and the silver pear garden.
Each room has wonderful planting combinations with thoughtful, high impact colour a key standout.
The whole is brought together in subtle but extraordinarily clever ways. So subtle that you don’t really notice, so clever due to the sheer multitude of methods employed.
The best gardens work without you really knowing why. A city-lover or child would walk in and immediately sense how special this garden is.
The ‘ponga’, or tree fern, fences throughout the garden are just one example of a feature that ties the garden together and links it to the natural landscape. Incredibly effective.
Native cabbage trees, Cordyline australis, also spring up as if from nowhere, underplanted by anything from the Marlborough Rock Daisy (Pachystegia insignis) to exotic irises. Their long trunks anchor the surrounding plantings, allowing views to be retained, whilst connecting the native bushland to the garden.
Puketarata is another example of sloped land adding much to the garden. Everyone loves a wonderful view, not many feel the same about the usually associated wind. However, at Puketarata the slope was excavated to form a sheltered platform for the house and certainly when we were there, the breeze was minimal throughout the garden. The best of both worlds.
One final point of special interest is the colour that is used in this garden. Jennifer focuses on green, bronze and silver; wonderfully complementary colours that blend perfectly with the New Zealand landscape. She equally, however, finds a space and fit for large, bright, showy flowers. It all works together like magic.
This garden certainly fits my definition of ‘bold‘ on many levels. It was another that I didn’t want to ever leave.