Ah Ailsa, a lady after my heart who loves gardens and getting her hands into the dirt. I can empathize with her feelings for the beauty of nature. When travelling the highlight of any visit is when I find a beautiful garden to wander around.
So it was with pleasure that I embrace Ailsa’s garden theme this week. The photos of gardens Ailsa has chosen to show on her blog “Where’s my backpack” are exquisite and very varied examples of some of her favourite gardens from around the world, do click here to immerse yourself in more gardens.
We lived and worked in New Plymouth in the 1980’s and so part of our New Zealand visit was to revisit our very good friends Ray and Kay who were our neighbours back then. New Plymouth is a hidden gem in New Zealand and off the tourist trail. With a backdrop of Mount Taranaki rising, in symmetrical splendour, from the fertile dairy country of its lower slopes(often claimed to be one of the most symmetrical volcanoes in the world) and the Tasman Sea beating and swelling along the western shore to create wave breaks surf board riders dream of, this is a place of natural beauty.
This is also a mineral rich area and in the fertile volcanic soils gardens thrive.
It was to “Tupare” one of these beautiful gardens that Ray and Kay took us. One that we had not visited when we lived here. It also had a personal connection for Kay as in the 1950’s her uncle was the head gardener when it was a privately owned property and she remembered, as a girl, spending time in the garden.
In 1932 Sir Russell and Lady Matthews started to create a garden from a gorse covered wilderness on the edge of the Waiwhakaiho River. After a lifetime of artistic creation and love, the couple relinquished their 3.6 hectare garden and gracious Tudor-style home to ensure the protection of Tupare as part of New Zealand’s heritage.
Under the management of the Taranaki Regional Council, Tupare continues to develop as one of the country’s most beautiful and distinctive gardens. Tupare, which means ‘garland of flowers’, has a number of special features, including the glade, glasshouse, old orchard and cliff cascade.
Entering the garden it enfolds us into a magical landscape, a garden that has been designed with love. The path zig zags down the side of a steep embankment and we are surrounded with a deep border of hydrangea, the variety and colours are stunning, I have never seen so many.
We wander through intimate garden rooms and past a pond where large goldfish swim lazily around.
In contrast the lawns down to the river flat area keep an idyllic pastoral feeling with simple plantings of specimen trees.
Then as we round another corner we catch a glimpse through the trees of Tupare the English style home.
We circle the house taking photos from all angles and peer through the windows at the beautiful, solid period furniture inside. Unfortunately the house is closed. It opens at 11am for conducted tours and as it is now 2pm we have, sadly, missed out.
Now we find out how beneficial it is to know a local. Kay wanders around while we take photos. Finding one of the “friends of Tupare” having a cuppa in the small office under the house she tells her of her uncle and that she last visited the house in the 1950’s. Excitedly Kay calls us over, this lovely lady is going to give us a quick, personal, guided tour of the inside of this grand old house.
How lucky are we…
The house is magnificent, it has an atmosphere of love and feels lived in, not just a museum of period pieces. We follow our guide around, reverently touching the solid wood and admiring the beautiful views of the garden through the windows. I could picture the family going about their day-to-day lives. I could live here…
We hurriedly take as many photos as the time allows and I invite you to come with me on a tour around this charming country home.
Thank you Ray and Kay for introducing us to this amazing house and garden.
We wend our way back up the hill, tired but satisfied by a day spent sharing this magical place with our friends.