Tag Archives: international experience

International Experience New Zealand Day 14: Akaroa: Taunton and Fisherman’s Bay

After driving through dry scenery with spectacular hills and the ever-present sheep farms, we arrived at the understated entrance of Taunton Gardens. We weren’t sure what to expect when we exited the van; all we could see was a well worn plant nursery area.

As soon as we passed under an archway of vines, however, we knew we had entered a special place. Barry Sligh came out of his 1852, rebuilt stone house to meet us and lead us through forest openings, around curves, and over bridges to show us his plant treasures.

P1100600  P1100505

He moved onto the property in the 1970’s, and within his first two years, he planted over 1000 trees. With no background in horticulture, he quickly learned how to care for many plants in a naturalistic setting, and in the nursery.

P1100510

Some of the more interesting plants were: an Auraucaria witch’s broom, a hosta that he developed for Prince Charles (after which Barry was invited to the Prince’s garden) and a variegated maple tree with red/pink on the undersides of the leaves. This unusual coloration created a stunning display in the sun’s rays.

P1100676  P1100671

 

Our final garden of our New Zealand trip was a lush oasis on a dry, windy cliff. Fisherman’s Bay Garden was created by Jill Simpson at her home nine years ago, but because New Zealand has no winter, the plants have grown in quickly. Jill is very conscious of her plantings since a nature preserve shares borders with her 100 hectares; she tries very hard to stick to natives and non-invasive plantings. Standing out among the many interesting hillside gardens, she has a myriad of hebes that vary in size, shape, and color. She attributes their vigor to the nearly frost-free climate and the salt carried by the wind.

P1100643

Whether driving, helicoptering, or boating in, it is a lovely experience to enjoy a cup of tea while overlooking the turquoise waters of the Pacific Ocean.

P1100639

Text by Sara Helm Wallace, photos by Bryan Thompsonowak

International Experience New Zealand Day 13 – Christchurch Botanic Garden with Jeremy Hawker

IMG_2232IMG_2269

We set out with the sun casting its warmth through the midst of the chilly morning breeze as we made our way towards the Christchurch Botanic Garden. We were greeted by the pleasantly warm and friendly Jeremy Hawker, who is the team leader for the Garden and Heritage Parks in Christchurch. Jeremy has an impressive fourteen years of horticulture and management experience for the Botanic Gardens such as Christchurch Botanic Garden; City Heritage Parks such as Hagley Park; and other Central Business District Parks that have been placed under his care. Some of these gardens and parks are currently undergoing major re-development due to the earthquake damage during 2010 and 2011.

IMG_2208Christchurch Botanic Garden has over 1.1 million annual visitors to its 17 hectares garden. It was established in 1963 and is in its 150th year anniversary this year. It is mostly funded by the City Council and held events such as musical concerts, a wine festival, changing plant displays for the Flower Festival, and public education for the schools and community. At any one time, these events attract about 100,000 visitors to the Garden. Christchurch Botanic Garden has suffered its pain through the horrendous earthquakes in 2010 and 2011 and is painstakingly in the midst of recovery. During the tremors of the earthquakes, Jeremy had to relocate the staff who were left homeless and provide additional support and counseling for them. The visitor center had to be relocated to the entrance of the Botanic Garden, while the bus depot was relocated to another end of the Garden. A police recovery center was set up to provide assistance to anyone who seeks it.   

IMG_2197Jeremy recalled that all the electricity was cut off and he suggested that a hard-copy of important telephone numbers and documents should be kept since all the computers were down due to the electrical failure. Water supply was no longer available to the plants, which struggled through the strenuous period of the aftermath of the earthquakes. Capital funding was utilized to re-build damaged recreation facilities and infrastructure such as the tennis courts at Hagley Park. Underground sewage spilled into the river system that flowed through the Botanic Garden and remained a priority for repairs as the staff scrambled to remove the spills from the river. Jeremy described with awe that during the earthquake, the water in the shallow rivers was seen bubbling furiously as if in a volcano eruption and then suddenly disappeared into the grounds below. 

IMG_2225

Spontaneous pallet pavilion with bucket seats built immediately after the earthquakes of 2010 & 2011.

IMG_2254We left Christchurch Botanic Garden and walked around the city as Jeremy explained that the government is still in the midst of deciding whether to re-build the same damaged building or to replace the building with a brand new look. The damage around the city is being repaired and Jeremy estimated that the recovery for the entire Christchurch city would be within 25 – 30 years. Though the city looks devastating, the people of Christchurch lifted the dull and empty atmosphere with cheerful and creative art instruments, such as hand-made musical instruments made out of boards, brushes and pipes; enormous green and velvety furniture were erected and stand-up cafes were made out of shipping containers. The Christchurch city may be greatly damaged, but unity and love can definitely be seen and felt within each person’s heart. 

Blog by Felicia Chua, photos by Sara Helm Wallace

International Experience New Zealand Day 12: Into the wild

Dodging the early morning rain showers, we made our way to Tasman Glacier, which was a 20-minute drive from our hotel. Our intrepid driver, Colin, took us to our destination amid snowy mountains and fast moving rivers. The glacier is fairly large and feeds the Tasman Lake, which is a milky color due to the dissolved mineral content in the water.  After admiring the scenery and native flora, it was time to make our 5-hour journey to the east coast city of Christchurch.

IMG_2780

The drive included snowy mountain views, bright blue lakes, golden meadows and dark green pine forests. Our half way-point was the Astro Café, located at the top of a large grassy hill adjacent to an observatory. The views were spectacular, and really showcased the diverse beauty of New Zealand.

 

IMG_2785We arrived at Christchurch Botanic Garden (CBG) at around 4 pm where we met John Clemens, the Curator of CBG. This Garden has been in existence for 100 years and, interestingly, 2014 will be its 150th anniversary. The age of CBG can clearly be seen by the impressive stature of the fine tree specimens currently thriving there. Unfortunately, several trees were destroyed by the recent earthquakes and by a severe storm last year, however, enough large specimens remain to continue the ambiance of the garden.

IMG_2515A project that sparked my interest was the implementation of a purely Gondwanan Garden that will showcase plants that are relics from a prehistoric era.  One example, the Wollemi pine, was only recently discovered in a canyon in Australia. John seemed to be very passionate about this project, but stipulated that other projects need to be completed first. The CBG has also had to revamp its nursery and office areas, leaving current staff without proper working space – a difficult situation for any organization. These building will be more ‘’earthquake safe’’ than previous structures on the property.IMG_2801

After our brief introduction to Christchurch, we looked forward to more exploration over the next few days.

IMG_2497

International Experience New Zealand Day 11: On the Road to Mt. Cook, Aoraki

Larnach to Mount Cook, Aoraki

We left the ghosts and fog of Larnach Castle and set our sights on Mount Cook in the center of the south island.  As we descended from Larnach we dipped below the clouds and headed into Dunedin for one last visit where the weather was warm and sunny.  We would travel north along the coast and then turn inward after taking in views of the ocean, blue skies and long, low clouds.

Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail

Our first stop on the journey was directly along the coast to see a unique grouping of round rocks along the beach.  The spherical Moeraki boulders lay exposed amidst the surrounding eroded sands and provided a great chance to walk along the beach, dip our toes in the cold surf and play with some beached giant sea weed.

IMG_2054

Once back in the van, the road headed inland and the spectacular views of the New Zealand landscape never disappointed us.  As we wound our way inland, our guide, Colin, surprised us with a stop for lunch in the great town of Oamaru (pronounced O-omaru).  Historically, the town was a hub for farmers but is currently known for its thriving arts community housed in its former industrial district and is home to the eclectic Steampunk Headquarters.  With only a short time to visit, we explored the shops in town and lunched on assorted veggie and meat pies at a local bakery.  With several hours of driving ahead of us, we set off for Mt. Cook.

IMG_2023

As we approached Mt. Cook we passed a progression of long narrow tourmaline lakes that stretched out along the side of the road.  As the elevation increased, so did the wind and rain as we approached our destination.  Once at Mt Cook our hopes of glacier trekking were rained out but plans were made to do an early morning tramp to get to the glacier for a quick view.  As the sun set over our lodge, the skies cleared and a rainbow appeared giving us hope that the next morning would be clear and more hospitable for glacier viewing.

IMG_2183  IMG_2184

International Experience New Zealand Day 10: Dunedin Chinese Garden and Dunedin Botanic Garden

We woke up to a brief glimpse of sunlight before the fog decided to obscure our view of the harbor. Preparing for a rainy day, we drove down the castle hill, and to our delight, the town below was dry and cool.
20140121_101130

20140121_103827
After strolling through the ornate Chinese gate, Malcolm Wong, Chair of the Garden Trust, greeted us and showed us around the Dunedin Chinese Garden. Because of the architectural and landscape elements found in a traditional Chinese garden, we learned a lot about Chinese history and culture as well as their auspicious gardening style, which was new to most of us.

20140121_101331

20140121_10134120140121_113018

The garden is modeled after the understated elegance of a scholar’s garden from the 1600s, between the Ming and Ching dynasties. Every piece of every element- brick, wood, stone, water, and plants- was installed with purpose. The concept of opposites pervades, such as mountain vs. water, and movement vs. stillness. It is a small garden, but feels large due to the winding paths and contemplative landscapes.

We then went on to the Dunedin Botanic Garden (DBG), the entrance of which is at the center of the steep, sloping lower garden.

20140121_13471020140121_151008

The colorful Mediterranean, xeric, and succulent plants are welcoming bursts of color among the terraced rocks. After lunch in the cafe, we met with the knowledgeable Barbara Wheeler, a former international intern at Longwood Gardens, who now oversees operations at DBG. She was joined by Alan Matchett, Director of DBG, and Tom Myers, Botanical Services Officer.
20140121_13280820140121_132751
We then walked up the hill to the upper garden, through the geographical collections which included plants from South Africa, Mexico, and North America. Also in the upper garden was an aviary, which houses many birds, one of which is the colorful golden pheasant.
20140121_121743
Throughout our entire trip, probably the most valuable item has been conversation with the directors, curators, and other administrators in the gardens. Their willingness to share and openness into the inner workings of New Zealand gardens has been tremendous in our education.

Blog by Sara Helm Wallace, photos by Felicia Chua

International Experience New Zealand Day 9: “Is it haunted?”

Before the arrival of the people who would become known as the Maori in the Thirteenth Century, there were no mammals endemic to the fauna of New Zealand. Birds filled most of the ecological niches of the islands. Although the natural history of the island has undergone dramatic changes over the last seven hundred years, there are still many birds. Unfortunately, this proved fatal this morning as several flew into the engines of the turboprop plane that we were meant to take from Wellington to Dunedin. Luckily, we were not on the plane and no passengers were hurt. Still, our flight was delayed seven hours and we spent a lovely day in the Wellington Airport.

2

New Zealand is never without its magic. Our lunch quest led us away from the airport and through a pedestrian tunnel that opened onto a sleepy seaside cul-de-sac complete with grass-filled parking lots, a dog beach, and a Kiwi bodega.

1

3

Arriving in Dunedin, and traversing the cliffs to the picturesque Larnach Castle, we were greeted by Head Gardener, Fiona Eadie, who was kind enough to keep our much-delayed appointment and tour us around the grounds of the castle. Fiona has been working with Margaret Barker, the owner of Larnach Castle, over the last twelve years to transform the gardens of the Castle into lush havens for native New Zealand plants with a focus on an impeccable visitor experience. Larnach features a South Pacific themed garden, an alpine garden, English style borders, tropical forests, and many other extensive plantings with a light Alice in Wonderland theme permeating various installations.

5

4

Up to this point we were unaware that a significant 6.2-magnitude earthquake had struck Wellington just hours after we had taken off. Over the past week we have come to love New Zealand and its people; our hearts go out to the North Island and those affected by the quake.

Dinner at Larnach is accompanied by a story of the rise, fall, and rebirth of the Castle. Its relatively short history includes episodes of extravagance, adultery, tragedies, insanity, and death. We were left indulged and intrigued, whispering the question… “Is it haunted?”

Photographs by Gary Shanks

International Experience New Zealand Day 8 – Wellington Botanic Garden and Otari-Wilton’s Bush

It was a breezy and sunny morning as we made our way to the Wellington Cable Car Station to catch the ride to the Wellington Botanic Garden (WBG). David Sole, who has been the manager of the WBG for the past ten years, greeted us upon our arrival. WBG has a garden area of about 25 hectares and was established in 1868. It is funded by the City Council and attracts about one million visitors annually. A master tree plan consisting of about 1,800 trees has been in place since 2011, with 40% of the plan dedicated to regeneration of native plants. David explained that native plants would be replanted in place of any deceased exotic plants in order to promote the use of native plants.

P1100102

Though there are many themed gardens in WBG, the gardens are inter-connected to weave a seamless design and flow for the visitor experience and education. A new Children’s Garden with an area of about 1,500m2 is under-going development and is scheduled for opening in 2016. The in-house nursery was recently renovated in 2010 and the roofs of the greenhouses were modified to collect rainwater for irrigating the plants. There are free summer concerts six times a week during January to attract more visitors and a display of about 1,200 Begonias in the Begonia House adds to the attraction.

P1100198

Rewi Elliot, who has been the curator of Otari-Wilton’s Bush (OWB) since 2005, joined us after lunch. OWB has a natural bush area of about 100 hectares and is divided into two separate themes – the forest (or bush) and the garden. The forest was founded by Job Wilton, a farmer, who decided to protect the site and fence off seven hectares to preserve the native plants. Dr. Leonard Cockayne and J.G. McKenzie founded the garden in 1926 to restore and promote the growth of native plants. OWB is the single largest collection of native plants with over 1,200 species and cultivars growing in the garden. An 800-year old, healthy, Dacrydium cupressium can still be seen growing on the steep mountain across OWB. Before the end of the tour, David gave us his enlightening quote of the day – “At the end of the day, gardens are all about the people.”

P1100234     P1100230 copy

 

 

Blog by Felicia and Photos by Bryan

International Experience New Zealand Day 7: The Taranaki Triptych

Today, still in the greater New Plymouth area, we visited with Greg Rine, Regional Gardens Manager for the Taranaki Regional Council, and his wife Sue. Greg has the privilege and skill to manage three amazing gardens, all very different from one another.

IMG_2301

First stop: Tupare
Tupare was started by a wealthy businessman who enjoyed landscaping the 10 acres of valley and hillsides around his 1941, Tudor-style home. Greg first took us to an overlook where we caught a breathtaking view of the valley before descending the switchback pathways to the house. The paths were lined with hundreds of tall, bright blue and white hydrangeas and the pervasive purple and white agapanthus, all in full bloom. The garden designs and structures were created in the Arts-and-Crafts style, and are maintained as such when it’s practical.

IMG_2234

Next stop: Pukeiti
The mountain forest here is steeped in Maori spiritual history, and the garden is renowned worldwide for its rhododendron collection, including vireyas. Since the 790-acre rainforest/garden recently became public in 2010, Greg has plans in motion for a modern visitor center, dramatic garden landscaping, and sustainable biodiversity in the rainforest.
Our trip through the 65-acre rhododendron collection was a series of pathways with “hotspots” of interesting plantings that always kept us wondering what we would find around the next corner.

IMG_2282Last stop: Hollard
Bernie Hollard was a true plantsman, collecting “one of everything” and planting them around his home near Mount Taranaki, a dormant volcano. As he collected, he worked his way further and further from the house, and soon had a unique paradise. In amongst the original eclectic plantings, Greg’s team has implemented a home kitchen garden, a swamp garden, a barbecue and playground, and an edible forest garden.

IMG_2238Greg’s philosophy of management really gets to the heart of why we are all enthusiastic students of public horticulture. The gardens are there for public purpose and public value. The community and the people are the ones who truly own and benefit from their conservation and beauty. Spending the day with Greg and his wife was a truly great experience before piling into the van for a 4-hour countryside drive to Wellington.

IMG_2334

 

 

Written by Sara Helm Wallace, photos by Sarah Leach Smith

International Experience New Zealand Day 6: Traversing Taranki

Sunny skies greeted us as we woke up and made our way to the charming garden of Valda Poletti. Located close to the center of New Plymouth, Te Kainga Marire is comprised purely of plants native to New Zealand and the surrounding islands.

The unusual Collospermum hastatum.

The unusual Collospermum hastatum.

Valdas house surrounded by native flora.

Valdas house surrounded by native flora.

We were surprised to learn that on purchasing the property in 1972, the first thing that Valda did was to design and implement the garden, never mind the house! The property was completely bare apart from some invasive gorse bushes and Valda has turned it into a native wonderland that still flourishes today. Highlights include a luxurious fern walk, a water garden and a dark tunnel, which is said to house glowworms at certain times of the year. Valda prides herself on having some rare native plants and they certainly are unlike anything we have seen in the United States. Two stunning examples are the blue-flowered Colensoa physaloides and the epiphytic Collospermum hastatum.

IMG_2310IMG_1628

Birds are also encouraged in the garden and we were lucky enough to spot a Tui in the trees. This species is found only in New Zealand and until recently was absent from the valley adjacent to Valda’s garden.

IMG_1626

Following our visit to Valda’s sanctuary, we then entered the Garden of Eden in the form of Pukekura Park. Within walking distance from New Plymouth, the Pukekura Park is comprised of native forest areas, botanical collections and open areas dedicated to parks and recreational activities.

IMG_2370

We met with Christopher Connoley who has been the curator of the Park for the past seven years. Pukekura Park was established in 1876, and initially was comprised of Pinus radiata, which, coincidently, is a native of California. Only a few of the pines remain with some examples dating back 150 years. Even more impressive was a native tree estimated to be over 1000 years old. Chris guided us through a portion of the 52 hectares of parkland, while educating us on the collections, as well as park management and community involvement and support.

.IMG_2358

Colorful Lobelia hybrids.

Colorful Lobelia hybrids.

An unexpected highlight was the display houses, which contained flowering species from all over the world. Judging by the condition of the potted plants, the daily maintenance is expertly handled by the staff, leaving a lasting impression and a fitting end to the visit.

photos by Kevin Williams and Gary Shanks

International Experience New Zealand Day 5: Let’s see what’s behind door number 2!

IMG_2250

Imagine that you are in a circular room with 5 closed doors leading to 5 different worlds. No matter which door you choose, there is sure to be an amazing adventure ahead. Today we visited Hamilton Gardens in Hamilton, New Zealand and had a decidedly “choose your own adventure” experience.

IMG_2203IMG_2222

We met with Director Peter Sergel and Manager of Operations Gus Flower to discuss Hamilton’s management plan and tour the gardens. Hamilton Gardens focuses on telling the history of gardens around the world. They do this by presenting five garden collections: Paradise Gardens, Productive Gardens, Fantasy Gardens, Landscape Gardens, and Cultivar Gardens. For example, the Paradise Gardens comprise of several individual gardens rooms based on world cultures. There is a Chinese Scholar’s garden, an American Modernist garden, an English Flower garden, a Japanese Garden of Contemplation, an Italian Renaissance Garden, and an Indian Char Bagh Garden. Each garden forks off from a central courtyard, allowing for garden guests to choose which garden to visit and then build anticipation upon approach. This is where Sergel, a landscape architect, has perfected the “reveal.” One of the most memorable experiences from the day was our visit to the Indian Char Bagh Garden.

IMG_2212

A short walk though a covered walkway opened into a bright white hardscape with a light teal blue fountain, and four beds of colorful annuals. Bright golden yellow paired with deep burgundy alongside vivid fuchsia and orange provided for a vision reminiscent of a Persian carpet. Upon entry to the garden, we all let out a simultaneous exclamation of “Wow!” Both the Productive Gardens and Fantasy Gardens also had this great layout. Hamilton Gardens balances out this highly structured layout with the less-formal Valley Walk, one of the Landscape Gardens, which takes guests to the northeastern edge of the property and features a naturalistic aesthetic created with native Waikato plants.

After our visit, our fearless driver Colin took us on an exciting road trip southwest to the quaint coastal town of New Plymouth. This drive included breathtaking views of the countryside’s rolling hills and densely forested valleys. We took an exciting detour to a black sand beach and dipped our toes into the chilly Tasman Sea!IMG_2284

In New Zealand, it seems, no matter what adventure you choose, it is sure to be fantastic. Tomorrow: Pukekura Park and Te Kainga Marire!