It’s Meant to Be at Puketarata Garden

Puke Tarata Garden in New Plymouth

Tree ferns set the local background to this exquisite rose and perennial border at Puketarata

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’.

Mossy steps at Puketarata

Mossy steps, repeated plantings and tree ferns make this approach look as though it has been there forever

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.

Clipped box hedges at Puketarata

Well defined Buxus hedges accentuate the intricate patterns of the parterre at Puketarata

Poppy parterre garden at Puketarata

Pretty poppy garden

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.

Armillary sculture at Puketarata

Alliums and Euphorbia are a striking setting for this lovely armillary sphere

Each room has wonderful planting combinations with thoughtful, high impact colour a key standout.

Colourful pots at Puketarata

I thought the colour here was exquisite. Eclectic blue pots unify the terrace without overly matching with flower colours setting off the brickwork perfectly

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.

Glowing succulent, Aloe plicatilis, at Puketarata

The stunning succulent, Aloe plicatilis, was a popular Taranaki pot plant, for very good reason

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.

Shady walkway made from tree free trucks at Puketarata

Ponga (vernacular term for tree fern) walkway – one of many gorgeous structures constructed from the these trunks

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.

Gorgeous lily-of-the-valley growing through a tree fern fence at Puketarata

Gorgeous lily-of-the-valley growing through a tree fern fence at Puketarata, as if it had popped up by itself

Healthy shade loving plants at Puketarata

Wonderfully natural style of planting, including the high impact, large leaved Chatham Island Forget-me-not (Myosotidium hortensia) on the right

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.

View beyond the cabbage trees at Puketarata

Colourful planting, native cabbage trees and the surrounding rolling hills make for a very attractive picture

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.

Tennis court and eucalptus at Puketarata

Even the tennis court is creative and appealing at Puketarata.  Eucalypts shield the wind from the west in the background

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.

Silver and bronze colour combinations at Puketarata

Green, silver and bronze are key colour themes at Puketarata with Pachystegia, Sedum and Canna in the foreground

This garden certainly fits my definition of ‘bold‘ on many levels.  It was another that I didn’t want to ever leave.

Jeff Thompson cow at Puketarata

A Jeff Thompson cow feeding by the cherry blossom at Puketarata

5 thoughts on “It’s Meant to Be at Puketarata Garden

  1. Jennifer Horner says:

    Its still looking good – you need to come back for another visit to Taranaki! I’m looking forward to a visit to Sydney in September & checking out your recommendations

  2. jannaschreier says:

    I would absolutely love to come for another visit, Jennifer. I’ve also been reading about the Marlborough garden festival; you just have so many gorgeous gardens in New Zealand, we are spoilt for choice. I definitely hope to get to another of your open days though. I would suggest you come to see my garden whilst you are in Sydney but I would just be too embarrassed, having seen yours! But if I can help in any way with the planning of your trip, do let me know.

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