Marrying superb views with native trees, a Waitati garden
delights Gillian Vine.
"I'm very much a believer in having the mystery unfold,"
Malcolm Gould says, which is why he likes to meet people at
the gate and guide them through the garden at Broadwater.
"If you drive down, you're too busy watching where you're
going to appreciate it."
As I had driven in, Malcolm and his partner, Euan Thomson,
took me back to start again and appreciate the unfolding
They bought their land overlooking Waitati's Heron Bay in the
early 1980s, then went to Europe for two years, gathering
inspiration - and a beautiful Italian dinnerset - as they
travelled around in a campervan.
"But I don't believe in copying anything," says Malcolm, a
retired interior designer.
The 5200sqm area was "not quite a blank canvas", with some
natives, a "landmark oak, apple trees, and a mysterious ring
of silver birches on the 'bow' of the promontory", he says.
"Without qualm, we removed a mighty pine, a wattle and
seedling Douglas firs," he adds, recalling huge bonfires of
The house came first but it had to reflect the pair's
commitment to doing "the very best we could for the land".
They agree that architect Ted McCoy's design met their
demands, which included views from every room, walls on which
creepers could be grown and terraces like outside rooms.
The house was completed in 1983 and work on the garden began,
working out from the house to the far corners.
"We never had a plan. It really was instinct," Euan says.
"It's very poor soil here, no topsoil at all. It would be
lovely to have some decent soil ... but there's always
something for your soil."
Native plants were a given, and they planted flax and kowhai;
encouraged and limbed up the struggling kanuka (Kunzea
ericoides) and pittosporums, added dozens more trees,
including New Zealand beech, lancewoods (a favourite of
Malcolm's), rewarewa (Knightia excelsa), broadleaf,
pseudopanax, Hoheria and tree ferns.
The view is filtered by the native trees which have braved
prevailing winds for decades. They get a better deal under
Malcolm and Euan's stewardship, as they have cleared gorse,
broom and blackberry.
Nature joined in - lancewoods seeded and native clematis
draped all in its reach, toetoe and mingi mingi arrived
courtesy of the birds but, says Euan, "so did the uninvited
hopefuls like viburnum, wattle and hawthorn".
In England, Malcolm had been impressed by the work of
gardener Gertrude Jekyll and architect Edwin Lutyens, and how
their collaborations tied house and garden together.
Broadwater is not all natives.
Rhododendrons were planted under the oak and Malcolm loves
"When he got involved in roses, he came home every day with a
boot-load of roses and I was the one who had to dig the
holes," Euan says.
Some things were modified, such as moving the drive and
vegetable garden when they sold half the property.
The terrace outside the dining area was enhanced by an oblong
pool, built by Euan, who recalls: "We didn't have any money,
so it had to be me who did it."
Other things worked just too well. A hedge of broadleaf
(Griselinia littoralis) "made a dramatic difference"
when planted behind the pool but Euan said it had to go. Each
time it was clipped, it had to be left a little wider and it
simply became too big but its replacement, Corokia, is
a winner not only for its grey-green colour but because the
small leaves look better when freshly cut.
Asked if they would do things differently now, they agree
that they probably would not put in the azalea bed below the
house and would have grown more natives to highlight their
varied colour and forms.
Being the temporary caretakers of a small wedge of New
Zealand's coastline is both an opportunity and
responsibility, they say, and it will be a wrench to leave
it, Malcolm adding: "Our greatest wish is that whoever
inherits our dream retreat will have the passion and respect
for our convictions, the tantalising walks and views and,
above all, an appreciation for the distinctive atmosphere and
the spirit of place."