From The Archives: Mature Garden Fashioned From Natural Environment

Maureen Ostler’s garden on the outskirts of Strat- ford is a great example of what can be done if one pays attention to the natural features, such as the lie of the land and streams on a property. The garden is mature – 33 years old in fact – and covers four acres, so you will need to allow time to have a good look at all it has to offer.

“My late husband planned the garden,” said Maureen. “When we retired into Stratford from a farm at Kohuratahi, he put in lots and lots of trees. He just loved trees. I was not really a gardener but I caught the vision and have been gardening ever since.”

The Ostlers dammed up a stream to make three scenic lakes on the property, and established trees and perennials around with very little underplanting (for ease of care). Paths were added and the result is a delightful meander along the edge of the lakes, across bridges and onto islands, with a great variety of plants to enjoy en route.

Each lake has its own identity. The first one along the path is surrounded by magnolias, camellias, conifers and azaleas. A bridge takes you out to a small island planted with Livingstone daisies, white alyssum and small conifers. The centrepiece is a swan – and you will see why shortly.

Both the second and third lakes have resident black swans, and they just love a few crumbs ofbread, so please remember to pop some in the car when you come to visit! Ducks and ducklings circle the lake and a bright row of wisteria adds colour at the lower end.

The second lake has more of a bushland setting, with mature Nikau palms, macrocarpas and cryptomarias towering over the area. Ferns and rhododendrons add texture and colour to the area, along with flowering cherries. Between this lake and the third one lies a ‘rhododendron island’ which should be a mass of colour for the festival. Looking up the path, a huge aloe, glinting in the sun, will catch your eye.

Lake number three is different again. It is probably the most colourful. with borders of camellias, azaleas, cherries and rhododendrons.

There are various areas of specialist interest around the lakes, including a wetlands area planted with aquatic grasses to stabilise the area, a small fernery, a Nikau Palm corner and a rose dell. A dell by the third lake grows a variety of maples, winter roses and hostas. Fuchsias form a backdrop to this area Returning to the front of the property there is still much to see. A shadehouse is home to cyclamens, azaleas, fuchsias, begonias and ferns.

“This is my playhouse,” said Maureen. “Many an hour is spent here on a wet day.”

A glasshouse nearby contains orchids of various kinds and pools in which fish lazily swim.

A formal garden, again with the water theme, is situated behind the house, and an aviary with doves, budgies, a cockatiel, canaries and zebra finches is nearby.

Water is the unifying theme throughout this garden and the tinkling of the stream and waterfalls gives a hugely soothing effect. Add to this the many textures of the ma- ture trees and the spots of brilliant colour and you have a garden that is very pleasing to visit.

The garden is open from 8am to dusk during the festival and families are welcome to bring a picnic lunch to enjoy at one of several picnic tables dotted around the property.