Author Archives: Abbie Jury

About Abbie Jury

jury.co.nz Tikorangi The Jury Garden Taranaki NZ

Wildside – the new naturalism in gardening

???????????????????????????????1) I want to try and capture the magic of a particular garden in a few words and photos. This is Wildside in North Devon and was quite simply one of the most exciting modern gardens we have seen. It is not that we will try and re-create it at home, but we found it interesting, stimulating and inspirational in many ways. It has been about 10 years in the making to this point.

??????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????2) The creator, Keith Wiley (and let us acknowledge the active assistance from his partner, Ros) has taken a 4 acre (1.6ha) flat field and created a landscape. When he started, it looked identical to this neighbouring field. All the top soil was removed and substrata redistributed to create ponds, canyons, shallow valleys and hills. At this stage, it is still possible to see this process in the upper garden which has yet to be planted. Once shaped, Keith returned the top soil in varying depths, depending on what plants he planned to grow in each area.

???????????????????????????????3) The interaction between the created landforms and the plants are the key components of this garden. When we visited, the upper garden was dominated by oranges, golds, yellows and whites. We would love to have been able to return a few weeks later because we could see that the dominant colour was going to change to blue and it would have looked very different. It takes exceptional plant skill to be able to get that transition and successional planting across seasons, let alone within the same season.

???????????????????????????????4) These are dierama, commonly called Angel’s fishing rods, one of the few corms and bulbs that were in flower in midsummer but this was a garden which was rich in drifts of bulbs – another layer of plant interest and a means of ensuring colour and detail when most perennials are either dormant or resting. In keeping with the modern perennials movement, there were grasses used but in moderation. Plants were in good sized clumps and often in drifts, but always in combinations, not chunky blocks standing in their own right as seen in many modern gardens.

???????????????????????????????5) There is very little hard landscaping and very little ornamentation. There may have been one small lawn, from memory, but this is a garden of plants and flowers. Some may consider the lack of formality and structure to be a shortcoming, certainly in a country with a long history of landscaped gardens full of permanent features. We saw a garden that pushed the boundaries of the prairie style and New Perennials movement, combined with the creation of sustainable ecosystems, underpinned by exceptional plantsmanship.

???????????????????????????????6) We travelled a long way to visit Wildside which is on the edge of Dartmoor, near Yelverton, and we would gladly travel a long way to see it again. However, it is currently closed to the public and it is uncertain when it will reopen. The owner told us that he needed to get the house built. After a decade of living in temporary quarters while giving priority to the garden, they had reached the point where the house had become a priority.

First published in the Waikato Times and reprinted here with their permission.

Prologue
???????????????????????????????Yes, a prologue. We first became aware of Keith Wiley’s style when we visited The Garden House in 2009 – the garden of the late Lionel Fortescue which Keith managed for many years. True, he had no hand in the first sight to gladden our eyes. As we went to enter the garden, lo and behold there was Mark’s very own Magnolia Felix Jury in prime position. To say we felt proud would be an understatement.
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But our enduring memory of The Garden House is the delightful Quarry Garden – which I wrote about at the time. We were also very taken by some of the wildflower areas and the naturalistic style. It was only after we had moved on from the area that we found out that this was Keith Wiley’s work and that he had branched out on his own garden a mere kilometer or two down the road. Had we known at the time, we would have taken our chances on seeing if we could have a look at his new project. It took us five years to get back and it exceeded all our expectations.

Garden Lore: Friday 21 Nov, 2014

“People who remain convinced that fashion does not enter the garden can think again. Almost every year one or two plants go “out” and others come “in”. You’ll have to be really on the ball to keep up…”

Alan Titchmarsh: Avant-Gardening, A Guide to One-Upmanship in the Garden (1984)
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Garden Lore: The Fashionable Umbellifers

I do not often give fashion advice but today I will give a tip. Umbellifers, dear reader, umbelliferous plants are hot overseas and we usually follow fashion. Preferably in white but that is not a great problem because it is the most common colour. If the flower looks familiar, it is because the apiaceae family that spawns most of the plants with these flat headed flower clusters called umbels, includes carrots, parsley and coriander. Also fennel, though that has soft yellow flowers.

The umbellifers include a number of wildflowers or roadside weeds, depending on which camp you fall in to. A fair few appear to be referred to as Queen Anne’s Lace, or common cow parsley, but we have failed to disentangle the many different species. There is a very large one referred to as giant hogweed that we saw growing wild in England. It is renowned for its caustic sap and the advice is to avoid ever touching it, let alone growing it from choice.

Why are the umbellifers so popular? They make a huge contribution to the nectar and pollen supply. Most have finer foliage and the flowers can rise above and appear to be dancing lightly in the air. Compare them to the chunky, compact bedding plants available today, and you can see how ethereal these simple blooms appear. Jaunting around a number of local gardens recently, I saw the annual Orlaya grandiflora being used. This is sometimes called French cow parsley or white lace flower. It is a smaller growing option available on the local market (Kings Seeds have it listed). Apparently switched-on gardeners have already picked up on the simple charm of umbellifers.

First published in the Waikato Times and reprinted here with their permission. 

Pretty little Orlaya grandiflora

Pretty little Orlaya grandiflora

The November Garden – rose time

???????????????????????????????This is the first spring in twenty seven years that our garden has not been open to the public. It has been something of a revelation. We have so many friends and colleagues who open their private gardens for at least some of the year that it had become normal – an integral part of our lives and how we gardened. We wanted a break but the main driver for the decision to close has been the high impact of the petrochemical industry. From being a sleepy little rural enclave, in a few short years Tikorangi has become Petrochemical Central and this has sent scarily large amounts of heavy and often hazardous transport past our gate. It is not a good fit with an open garden.

We take the long view here. Our garden is built around trees originally planted by Mark’s great grandfather from 1870 onwards. The house gardens have been intensively worked since they were first put in by Mark’s parents in 1950. It seems likely that the garden will still be here when the gas has been pumped out from the ground below us and the petrochemical companies have moved on from fossil fuels – to renewables, we hope. In the interim, I don my iPod because I would rather listen to music in the garden than heavy industry. Now we garden for our own pleasure and without having to titivate to open garden standards – or garden grooming we call it.

Cymbeline, on of the David Austen roses

Cymbeline, on of the David Austen roses

November is peak rose season for us. I have a love-hate affair with roses. I am forever debating with myself whether the beauty of the blooms outweighs the foliage and form which are often disappointing – even more so as the poor defoliated things battle through summer and autumn. But is a large, comprehensive garden ever complete without roses? The problem is that we don’t spray our roses. Ever. I never spray anything and Mark point blank refuses to do roses. If they don’t perform without spraying, rip them out and replace them is his view. We do a bit of that and we are trialling some almost thornless pillar roses for a new pergola we have planned.

Mme Plantier, I understand

Mme Plantier, I understand

Mme Plantier, I understand [/caption]Personally, I am not a fan of hybrid teas. They don’t even rank amongst desirable cut flowers for me. I much prefer the informal floribunda types. We have a wonderful white shrub rose which was finally identified for us as Mme Plantier. It keeps excellent foliage without intervention, flowers in abundance and is sweetly scented. But it is only once-flowering and so many gardeners now refuse to grow any rose that doesn’t repeat-flower through the season. We don’t expect other shrubs to flower continually but poor roses are now judged by a different standard. Is six weeks not enough?

Rose Flower Carpet Appleblossom

Rose Flower Carpet Appleblossom

While the Rose Flower Carpet series never attract descriptors such as delicious or exquisite, as high health backbone plants, we have yet to find anything to rival them. Year in and year out, they flourish despite our high humidity and high summer rainfall.  The somewhat vibrant pink form that was the first to be released and the white have particularly long flowering seasons. In fact the white is rarely without blooms. The bright pink looks great when surrounded by large amounts of background green. It took me a few attempts to find the right locations. I prefer the paler apple blossom pink but it doesn’t repeat as well and blooms can ball in heavy rain.

While we don’t spray, I am old fashioned and prune by the manual, even though there is research which says that a pass over with hedge clippers is just as effective. We keep roses in open, sunny positions with good air movement. As a point of principle, we do not routinely add fertilisers to our ornamental gardens but we mulch often with homemade compost. That is their feed. If any roses can’t perform well enough with the same regime of care that the rest of the garden gets, then I am afraid they are not for us.

But those that do well here are a November delight.

First published in the November issue of NZ Gardener and reprinted here with their permission. 

Don Quixote Gardens

 Te Popo is a cool climate, woodland garden on a large scale inland from Stratford with a romantic feel that I love.


Te Popo is a cool climate, woodland garden on a large scale inland from Stratford with a romantic feel that I love.

Only old friends know that the man to whom I am still married was once a rock and pop drummer. A teaching colleague of mine roped him into playing in the orchestra for two musicals. While Joseph will be forever referred to in this house as he of the “bloody technicoloured nightmare”, the magic of “Man of La Mancha” did not pall over time and has entered our personal lexicon. I have to explain this because it is the irrepressible optimism and personal vision, drive and conviction that we see in what we now refer to as Don Quixote gardens.

This is a syndrome I know well because I am married to one such gardener so I recognise it in others. Don Quixote gardens are grand visions but personal visions of an individual. Let us rule out immediately those gardens – and I have seen a few – where the owners have set out to create what they think will be an impressive garden in order to impress other people. That is status symbol gardening.

These are only half the columns at Paradise. The other half of the crescent is already wreathed in plants as a completed section of colonnade.

These are only half the columns at Paradise. The other half of the crescent is already wreathed in plants as a completed section of colonnade.

Don Quixote gardens are personal creations but on a bigger scale than most people contemplate, usually against the odds and without the corresponding budget that allows a small army of trained but subservient gardeners to follow in one’s wake. There is bravery, passion and a steadfast determination common to these garden creators. And a compulsive passion for both plants and landscape. Generally, Don Quixote gardeners would like it if you liked their garden, but they are not going to feel a failure if you don’t because they haven’t made it to impress you.

Let me give you a few examples. If you have ever been to ‘Paradise’, the extraordinary creation of Bob Cherry (assisted by Mrs Derelie Cherry) in New South Wales, you will know what I am talking about. It is an enormous garden, with some simply astounding brickwork and structure combined with a remarkable plant collection. Bob Cherry will be known to many New Zealanders as the originator of the Paradise sasanqua camellia range, but his plant knowledge and interest go well beyond this. As the saying goes, he has probably forgotten more about plants than others have ever known.

I think it unlikely that ‘Paradise’ will ever be finished. And I do not think that matters.

Paloma is unique amongst New Zealand gardens in design, plant content and genuine creativity, aided the boundless energy of its owners

Paloma is unique amongst New Zealand gardens in design, plant content and genuine creativity, aided the boundless energy of its owners

Closer to home, it is far too many years since we last visited Trelinnoe, the garden built by John and Fiona Wills near Napier but I think that probably fits the Don Quixote genre. Paloma, the extraordinary garden of Clive and Nicki Higgie near Wanganui is another. One of my favourite Taranaki gardens is the woodland garden of Te Popo – the work of Lorri and Bruce Ellis. It is big. It is soft-edged rather than tightly manicured but maintained to a very high standard without a big budget and primarily as a result the owners’ personal passion for the place and Lorri’s willingness to spend every day in the garden.

These are not places where the owner says airily: “We don’t want to be slaves to the garden. It only takes us about two hours a week to maintain.” Don Quixote gardens are created by people who would rather be in their garden than anywhere else.

Wildside in North Devon was different to any garden that we have seen and we were quite simply entranced

Wildside in North Devon was different to any garden that we have seen and we were quite simply entranced

I have mentioned before the inspiration we gained from visiting Wildside in North Devon but I have yet to write about it in detail. Sometimes it takes time to mentally process an experience. This was another such garden, and the garden owner, Keith Wiley is a splendid latter day Don Quixote. He took an almost flat cropping field and created a landscape. The scale of the earthworks involved in sculpting the land is difficult to comprehend but he created a rise and fall of more than twelve metres before he even started planting. It is a work in progress by a man who is not only possessed of huge energy and vision, but also a pre-eminent plantsman. I did laugh when he told us his artist wife had drawn a line of demarcation beyond which she would not garden. Any additional area beyond that line, he is to manage on his own. He will, I am sure.

Truth be told, these are not Don Quixote gardens, so much as Don Quixote gardeners, characterised by heroic visions backed by hard graft and above average knowledge – well above in some cases. These are people who will never say “my garden is full” or “my garden is finished” for, should that stage be reached, one might as well be dead. These Don Quixote gardens are about as far as one get from an urban courtyard, a contemporary designer look or a suburban back yard. They are not for the faint hearted or the uncommitted gardener.

First published in the Waikato Times and reprinted here with their permission.

Plant Collector: Davidia involucrata

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Many readers will know this tree by its common names – variously “Dove Tree”, “Handkerchief Tree” or “Ghost Tree”. I’m going for the handkerchief. In full flower it does look as little as if somebody has pegged white hankies all over it. In fact the showy white bits are not flower petals, they are what are called bracts – specialised leaves which are an adjunct to the flower structure. The actual flower is pretty insignificant. It is the same with bougainvillea where the showy, colourful bits are bracts, not petals.

The davidia is a deciduous tree from central and western China which means it is cold hardy. It is a medium sized tree, upright and conical in habit, reaching maybe 10 metres in height. It needs a bit of age before it reaches flowering size so is not a tree for the impatient gardener. Keep an eye out for damage from cicadas which can weaken branches.

The davidia makes a handsome tree with lovely, light green, pleated leaves – not unlike a tilia or lime tree but more compact in the longer term – with a floral display which is quite remarkable.

First published in the Waikato Times and reprinted here with their permission.

Garden Lore: Friday November 14, 2014

Garden Lore

“Consult the genius of the place in all.”

Alexander Pope, Epistle to Burlington (1735)

Plastic stakes and ties - never a good look

Plastic stakes and ties – never a good look

Staking plants

I know I have repeatedly mentioned staking of plants in recent months but I found a prime example of the reason why. I was out and about garden visiting last week and I took this photo in an otherwise immaculate garden where the owner paid great attention to detail and was fastidious in her presentation and maintenance. The staking, however, is awful. What you are looking at is one of a small group of standard lollipop Choisya ternata, sometimes called Mexican or mock orange-blossom because of its white scented flowers. The stem is not yet strong enough to hold the head up without snapping. The stake to the left is the nursery staking and tying, put in place to train the plant up. The stake to the right has been added, I assume, by the gardener who was presumably worried – and rightly so – that the nursery stake might not be sufficient in her garden. Both are green plastic and the nursery has used a shiny, commercial black plastic tie.

If the look doesn’t worry you, then it doesn’t matter. To me it stuck out like a sore thumb. If the plant had been positioned with the stake around the back, it would have helped. But it would look much better without the plastic. A discreet length of rusted metal would be my choice. When replacing a stake, don’t force the new stake in hard by the trunk, making a new hole. You are severing the roots and will do more damage than good. Try and use the existing channel made by the stake you have removed to avoid fresh damage.

First published in the Waikato Times and reprinted here with their permission.

A Place to Sit and Contemplate

???????????????????????????????1. Sometimes it is the setting, not the seating which is the important feature. A simple bench is all that is needed to draw attention to the beautiful long vista, inviting you to take the time to sit and look. You need tanalised timber of course and farm posts are the most practical option. Make the bench long enough to hold two people and their coffee mugs without having to be too close, but not so long that it sags if somebody sits in the middle. This lovely scene is at Puketarata Garden near Hawera.
???????????????????????????????2. How could I not include this example from Wairere Garden in Gordonton? Obviously there are a few practical issues when it comes to sitting on this hand crafted bench which looks as if it has been made from old fence battens. With that length it would only be suitable for a single person or two young lovers. I really liked the sense of enclosure with it being placed inside a curved hedge and the contrast between the lichen-encrusted, rough simplicity and the clipped formality behind.
???????????????????????????????3. This is one of our own favoured seating areas, especially in summer when there is dappled light through the trees above. It is comfortable enough even without the tapestry cushions made by my late mother. The curved bench seat is stone, the table concrete on a brick plinth. I am guessing it was Mark’s mother who inset the vintage tiles around the edge of the table to add detail although few remain now. It does not always come equipped with the bottle of wine.
???????????????????????????????4. From home to away – the garden out the back of Restaurant Baudy in Giverny (where Monet himself used to dine with friends and you can repeat the experience to this day) applied casual French deshabille style to the outdoors. You would not want to be of large stature and trust to this outdoor setting, but the hollyhocks and gently rusting iron are the epitome of what is sometimes styled shabby chic in modern parlance.
???????????????????????????????5. Let’s be honest, you would not be wanting to sit on these chairs when the grass is wet, but then if it has been raining, outdoor seating will be wet too. The absence of worn track marks to the chairs suggested that they were not in great use when we visited this garden near Stratford on Avon. But that long grass, meadow look is very charming. And at least if the seats are sited in the long grass, the legs will not be making holes in the lawn and you don’t have to move the furniture to mow.
???????????????????????????????6. This is in a private Yorkshire garden and is, believe it or not, the children’s pavilion though I doubt that the comfortable cane chairs are there for the children to sit upon – far more likely for adults. Traditional cane needs to be under cover. It is only the all weather modern synthetics that can be left out in all weathers but modern or old, I have yet to meet outdoor seating that is more comfortable than cane. Personally I covet a little semi-enclosed pavilion like this one – with or without the Beatrix Potter wall paintings. In a climate which is never quite as warm as I would like, this type of outdoor room seems eminently practical.

First published in the Waikato Times and reprinted here with their permission.