Gardening was a Waihola woman's way of meeting her
neighbours, Gillian Vine learns.
Agreeing to host the Outram Garden Club's Christmas event
last year had a pleasant side effect for Pam Deans.
She thought that, if club members were travelling to Waihola
to her place, they should have the opportunity to look at
some other attractive gardens in the area, so she sorted out
several to visit.
It was not difficult: she walks around Waihola regularly and
had admired a number of lovely gardens. The problem was that,
working mainly in Dunedin, Pam didn't know the owners but
some door-knocking soon solved that ''and I met some of my
Pam and her husband, Robin, have lived in Waihola for almost
11 years. They bought the property - then 2ha, since enlarged
to 4.1ha - with an eye to becoming reasonably
''It been completely transformed,'' Pam says.
Previous owners must have had a love affair with conifers,
for there was a canopy over the drive formed by a row of
pines on one side and uncut macrocarpa on the other.
''It did look nice, like looking down a funnel,'' Pam
recalls, but it created too much shade and sucked goodness
from the soil. Also out went a couple of large - and
potentially enormous - sequoias, pines on a boundary and
several other conifers plus, regrettably, a walnut tree that
had been planted too close to the house.
In went new fences. ''The old ones were had-it,'' Pam says.
That meant a double-grafted greengage-Coe's Golden Drop,
Omega, Billington and other plums could be planted in a mixed
border along the fenceline in front of the house. A small
orchard, with more stone fruit and gevuinas, is further back
from the house. The gevuinas fruited for the first time last
year and Pam was delighted to get three nuts to try. The
bushes are covered with flowers and she has high hopes of
more nuts this season.
Other changes included moving the vegetable garden.
''From the deck, when we came you looked out at the vege
garden. I didn't fancy relaxing on the deck and thinking of
weeds,'' Pam says.
Apart from removing unwanted trees, one of the most difficult
jobs was creating a new back lawn. The previous owner had
bred goldfish and planned to extend his pond, so had scraped
out a large area, down to the clay pan. It was left in that
state. For their daughter's wedding, the Deans decided to
create a lawn and garden.
''It was hard,'' Pam recalls.
The key to the flower garden is simplicity. In spring, lilacs
in lavender, purple and white perfume the air, then blue
hydrangeas and bright clumps of dahlias and lilies add colour
in summer along with self-sown snapdragons (antirrhinums).
Because Pam is busy running a business, nothing in the garden
can be too fiddly or time-consuming and once established,
plants are left to do their own thing. Thanks to generous
applications of compost, they all seem happy. Pam explains
that, because they do not have line of sight to Lake Waihola,
they miss the ''lake effect'' and get harder frosts than
properties with lake views.
''My garden has to be tough,'' she says.
Looking around for what might be suitable to exhibit at the
Outram Garden Club's show on February 15, she suspects,
''with it being so dry'', she may have little to put on show
but is sure other keen exhibitors will ensure the usual
brilliant line-up. And, if she fulfils her ambition to spend
more time in the garden, there's always next year.
The Outram Garden Club's annual show is on Friday, February
15, at the Outram church hall, Holyhead St. Entries are
unlimited, $2 per exhibitor. For details of how to enter,
phone 486-1608. The show is open to the public 2pm-7pm.
Admission is by gold coin donation (children free). Afternoon
tea $2; raffles and market table.