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Gardening with Gael - An amble through the Ramble


Begonia, fruit trees and japonica bank-890Flowers on the Toru tree-675Three years have passed since we were last in the Mangawhai Garden Ramble. Young mothers and their children need all the support they can get, and I am delighted that once again we can share our garden at the Block in support of the Mangawhai Kindergarten and the Mangawhai Playcentre. Back in the 70s the nearest playcentre was in Kaiwaka and I remember how important it was for both parents and children.

Many changes have taken place in the garden in the three years. The tea plantation has grown beyond recognition, the bush understorey is well established. The garden really starts from the gate. Parking on the road is a must because there is limited parking by the house. Walking down the drive on the left is a stand of kawakas, the North Island species of Libocedrus plumosa, one of New Zealand’s two endemic species. This is a beautiful pyramidal shaped conifer and there are a couple of excellent specimens. Sadly the wind funnels between the huge totara on the drive and batters the middle tree. It is a great example of how tough the wind can be. I regret not planting the pohutukawa hedge along the roadside another 50 metres which would have protected them all.

At the bottom of the hill is the first section of the vineyard on the left. On the right Box has removed the grapes from the terraces and for a splash of colour I have mass planted (to my friend Marg’s horror, although she admits now they look good) begonias around the existing japonicas. At the base of the bank there is a row of fruit trees, mostly apricot. Rambling roses tumble into the dam.

Just around the corner on the right is a Toronia toru, another New Zealand native endemic to the North Island. This is one of the only two native members of the protea family. Easily distinguished by its long slender leaves, at the moment there are clusters of small yellow flowers which I hope hold another couple of weeks.

The drive then meanders through native bush. It is heartening to see how quickly the nikau has become established. Damp areas either side of the drive have them flourishing. We have introduced the karaka. By hand casting drifts of karaka seeds we now have dozens of trees scattered through the bush margins.

Th drive then opens out to the garden. The top terraces are now an orangery. First level is still the asparagus, next level a variety of citrus, next level all bergamot oranges for adding to the tea to make Earl Grey, and the last level limes and mandarins. 

The path winds down through the persimmons and pomegranates to the vireya walk, sheltered by the canopy of liquidamber, past the magnolia stellatas and down to the hill garden. Alstromerias pop out here and there, my favourite a lovely group planting of Indian summer, whose lovely bronze leaves contrast with the red and yellow flowers.

Halfway down the hill there is a new track to the right lined with hydrangeas called The Maple Walk. I love the maple Acer ‘Bloodgood’ which is at the top of the hill so much that this inspired the Maple Walk. Lined with hydrangeas there is another Bloodgood, osakazukis and crimson queens.

The dahlias are planted in front of the hydrangea paniculatas. Continue across the bottom of the hill to the tea plantation then take the winding road up the hill through the tea.Turn left near the top for the Game of Thrones zombie dragon head.
The walled rose garden is at the top of the path.

I look forward to meeting the Ramblers.

Begonia, fruit trees and japonica decorate the bank.

Clusters of small yellow flowers on the native toru tree.

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