Waihola gardens are in the spotlight tomorrow, reports
In recent years, garden tours have become a popular
fundraiser and are usually well-supported, as most properties
on tour lists are not usually open to paying visitors.
Tomorrow, six gardens in the Waihola area will be open to
help raise funds to restore Milton's historic Tokomairiro
Presbyterian Church, designed by eminent architect R.A.
Almost 120 years after the church was opened in 1889, Anne
and Ian Reid declared their new home open. Situated south of
Waihola with stunning views across the lake to Maungatua,
where Ian had been brought up, it is one of the properties on
By the time they moved into the house in early in 2006, the
Reids had been living in a caravan on site for almost three
years, surrounded by hundreds of plants.
Anne explains that, when they sold their Island Block,
Millers Flat, farm in 2000 and bought the Black Swan tearooms
and motels in Waihola, the cream of a 30-year-old garden was
moved with them. They brought a truck and trailer-load of
plants - ''hundreds of bags, buckets and root-balled
rhododendrons'' - and stored them on a section behind the
tearooms, where keeping them moist and in good condition was
a major concern, given how busy Anne and Ian were with the
After three and a-half years, the Reids sold the Black Swan
and moved into the caravan on the bare 10.5ha block they had
bought a couple of years earlier.
''The shift also entailed the huge job of reshifting all our
plants, the rhodos requiring a front-end loader for each
shift,'' Anne explains.
Once the house site was cleared, a retaining wall was built
to the rear and the area above this was earmarked for the
main part of the decorative garden, while Ian's vegetable
garden was sited on one side of the house, sheltered by a
selection of attractively shaped native pittosporums.
Ian explains that the topsoil from the house site was saved
for the garden and he brought in tonnes of calf litter to
enrich the ground.
''It grows pretty well,'' he says modestly of his very
In two glasshouses Anne grows tomatoes, including Bloody
Butcher and Early Money. Whitefly is a problem, so she is
thinking of growing French marigolds (Tagetes) to try to
defeat these pests. The Reids grew tomatoes at Millers Flat
and some of the Early Money seed came with them. It was easy
to transport, unlike the rhododendrons, which five years
after they left the farm, were finally put into their
permanent positions, as were the trees Anne and Ian brought
''We lost very few rhodos,'' Anne says.
Roses also survived the move, as did the grapevine planted
along the edge of the retaining wall.
Fruit is important to Anne, who estimates that she has three
dozen trees planted in the decorative garden. There are
plums, greengages, nectarines, apples (including the heritage
varieties Hetlina and Monty's Surprise), pears (Taylor's Gold
and Bon Chrétien are favourites), quinces and peaches.
Anne recommends Black Boy peaches - ''It's always a good
producer and everyone should have one'' - and has been
fortunate to be given a Roxburgh Red apricot, as they are
The small Roxburgh Red tree produced 70 fruit, probably just
as well for Anne is intolerant of poor performers, saying:
''It's got to produce or it's out''.
The fruit trees are decorative in spring, then the flowers
take over - bearded irises, roses, phlox, dahlias, an
enviable line-up of lilies as well as lots of treasures,
including a small-leafed native tree, Hoheria
angustifolia, which Anne recommends as an alternative to
its cousin, the lacebark (H. populnea).
Climbing a pillar behind the house she has Chile's national
flower, Lapageria rosea, which is covered with deep
pink flowers, complemented by a late-flowering pale blue
clematis. Alongside them, a large yucca adds a rather exotic
Anne says she has several projects to complete but things
look great as they are. To illustrate its history, she has
prepared a selection of photographs of the garden's
development from bare clay, a reminder that this
mature-looking garden is just six years old.
''It shows what you can do in a fairly short time,'' Anne
Anne and Ian Reid's garden is one of six in the Waihola area
that will be open tomorrow afternoon to raise funds for the
restoration of the Tokomairiro Presbyterian Church. Tickets
($10, including afternoon tea) are available at the Waihola
community church, Nore St, Waihola, from 1.30pm. There is
also a competition - take along one rose bloom, in your own
container. For further information, phone (03) 417-8291.