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New Zealand gardeners write about their love of their gardens
Part 1 The Barretts' garden at Kaituna Valley

Kay Barrett - 02/06/06

Two enthusiastic gardeners have allowed me to publish some photos and written a short piece about their gardens and what they have meant to them.
We invite other Kiwis who read NZine to send in a brief story of their garden and photos for us to add to this feature.

The Barretts’ garden in Kaituna Valley, Banks Peninsula

Kay Barrett

As a child and then a teenager I spent a little time in my parents’ garden but my efforts were rather spasmodic.

Red leaves on an ornamental grape – looking from the kitchen window to the hillside
Red leaves on an ornamental grape – looking from the kitchen window to the hillside

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When I married Robert and we moved to the farm in Kaituna Valley the garden had not been given a lot of attention. There was a high macrocarpa hedge which offered shelter from the southerly winds, and a laurel hedge separating the garden from the fowls. There was another hedge across the front of the property, a small front garden and a large raspberry area in a wire netting cage to protect the fruit from the birds.

Miniature daffodils and blue omphalodes
Miniature daffodils and blue omphalodes

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Robert put in a large vegetable garden straightaway and once our three children were at school and I had more free time I gradually developed the flower garden. I planted flowering shrubs from the parking area to the gate – rhododendrons, forsythias and camellias. Gradually the other areas were filled to capacity with interesting plants and then about twelve years ago I started under-planting in the shade garden where there were existing natives and a large gum tree already growing. It has developed only slowly because of the summer droughts.

For the last ten years the problem has been not “What shall I put in the garden?” but “Where shall I put my new plant?” The garden has continued to expand to fill the area within the boundary fences, but still the problem exists. When a visiting garden club gave me a rhododendron I had to remove another plant to make room for it.

Looking down the path to the dovecote
Looking down the path to the dovecote

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The family have been very supportive of my hobby and given me garden features – an archway, two dovecotes (frequented by starlings, not doves), a manuka garden seat, a hardwood seat, a bird bath, a man’s head carved with a chain saw from a fence post, a Koru for the shade garden, sculptures of waves, a support for wisteria, and metal support frames, most made by our two sons.

I could not have developed the garden to its present state without the help of my husband Robert and our sons who have done the heavy digging, carried rocks to new sites, and put in extra piping for watering the garden from the overflow tank.

Ours is a family garden and a source of enjoyment to us and to our friends.

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