‘Mad to destroy it’: Canterbury garden passed in at auction

Broadfield Garden on nearly 5ha at 250 Selwyn Rd passed in at auction and is still on the market....
Broadfield Garden on nearly 5ha at 250 Selwyn Rd passed in at auction and is still on the market. Photo: Supplied
Landscaped gardens deemed of international significance passed in at auction in Selwyn last week but Bayleys agent Chris Jones said it’s not because they weren’t spectacular.

“It’s an absolute masterpiece but requires a special kind of buyer,” he told OneRoof.

Several interested parties were doing their homework on the potential purchase of Broadfield Garden – nearly five hectares of lush lawn and native plantings that represent a 30-year love affair by the seller.

Jones said the auction campaign had so much interest it was “ridiculous” with dozens of people turning out to open homes and as many as 150 people there one day.

But while a lot of people were looking, the scale of the property was not for the faint-hearted, he said.

The garden was established by local David Hobbs on what was a bare paddock three decades ago. He turned it into something so special the New Zealand Gardens Trust designated it a six-star “Garden of International Significance” and it has featured regularly in gardeners’ digests’ write ups.

Broadfield Garden attracted up to 150 visitors a day during open homes. Photo: Supplied
Broadfield Garden attracted up to 150 visitors a day during open homes. Photo: Supplied
Jones said plantings include a beech forest, a rose garden, a daffodil walk, a berry house and a kauri forest, and there is a man-made canal and a circular sedge pond.

There is no house but there are two potential building sites Jones said made sense to build on because while Hobbs built a shed on the grounds, he never did build a house.

Jones said a new owner could build something glorious and as there were no rules or caveats would have carte blanche to do what they wanted within the resource consent process.

That could be holding weddings or opening a café, building the dream house or even opting for a tiny home instead of buying a bach.

“People go and drop $3, $4, $5m on a beach in Wanaka or Queenstown or the Bay of Islands – it might even be someone that lives somewhere else who says rather than a bach I’m going to buy these gardens and build myself a wee tiny home on it and just enjoy it.

“It just needs that right person that says here’s 30 years of somebody else’s work and I’m going to enjoy that.”

The property has multiple gardens, ponds and forests, but no house, just a very picturesque...
The property has multiple gardens, ponds and forests, but no house, just a very picturesque garden shed. Photo: Supplied
Jones described the garden as a genuine one-off for New Zealand but said to maintain it would take someone with skill, or someone willing to pay to keep it as it is. He said you’d be mad to destroy it and anyone who wanted to do that would be better off buying bare land down the road for quarter the price.

The property, which is now for sale by negotiation, has an RV of $810,000 but Jones said buyers would have to offer “significantly north” of that.

“When you’re on the property it’s unbelievable, it really is. It’s like walking around the Botanic Gardens but it’s your own. Once you get there everyone goes ‘oh my God, I cannot believe this exists’. It’s just that good.”

The garden is planted to come alive throughout the seasons with pops of colour from New Zealand-raised varieties of crab apple, cherry, ash and maple trees, as well as daffodils, tree peonies, magnolias, azaleas, camellias, rhododendrons, and there’s plenty of butterflies and bird life.

While Broadfield Garden was the biggest garden attraction on the market last week, Bayleys agent Adam Heazlewood had a successful run of auctions of houses with beautiful gardens.

A three-bedroom town house on Merivale Lane in Christchurch had an “amazing” garden.

The owners, who built the house, had been there nearly four decades and the garden was their pride and joy.

Heazlewood said while the garden was part of the attraction, the location and other attributes drove big interest.

“We had 62 groups view the property in three weeks which is really unheard of at the moment.”

Some were out-of-towners but the majority were locals, as were the buyers on auction day, who paid $1.3 million for the property, just over the $1.21m CV.

“It’s sold under the hammer. Someone opened the bidding at $900,000 and the bidding just went in a frenzy basically.

“Merivale Lane is a great address. It was a rare section, north-facing so it had a lot of privacy and the fact it was single level was highly appealing to those wanting to downsize.”

In Lyttleton, a four-year-old house with three bedrooms on Exeter Street, with a “transfixing” garden, sold for $2.1m, which Heazlewood thought was the second-highest sale price in Lyttleton that has been recorded.

The property was a one of a kind for Lyttleton and, again, while would-be buyers were from around the country a Cantabrian won the auction.

The property sold well over its CV of $1.265m but it was a special property, Heazlewood said.

“Botanic is the name of the landscaping company that did the design and works and it was just absolutely beautiful but the specification of the home was right up there.

“It was designed by Co-Lab who is now known as Common. They are known for highly architectural homes that are very well considered and this was no exception to that.”

The home features an entranceway with a soaring ceiling, expansive gallery windows and a signature staircase that incorporates a bookshelf, and the gardens are lush with vegetation with curated pathways.

Heazlewood said 65 groups viewed the property which was a “staggering” number.

“It wouldn’t matter when you put it to market. Even if there was lots of stock it would still stand out.”

By Catherine Masters, OneRoof.co.nz