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New Zealand Gardens to Visit Juliet Nicholas and Rosemary Barraclough

Juliet Nicholas is one of the country’s best-known garden photographers. Her eye-watering photographs regularly appear in the nation’s best-regarded garden magazines. And they have, in recent years, also appeared in book collaborations (In the Company of Gardeners; Frensham, Flourish).This year, she’s joined forces with journalist Rosemary Barraclough to produce what may be her best work yet: visits to 50 extraordinary gardens.

True gardeners cannot get enough garden inspiration and I am certain that this book will be an extremely welcome guide for either the armchair travellers; or for those who might like to eventually visit them all in person. I, for one, would see this as a charming reason for an extended road trip, or trips.

The book is arranged regionally, from the top to the tip, so planning can be easily achieved for each area, with diverse offerings within each assured. Take, for example the four featured gardens of Northland, New Zealand’s sub-tropical, so-called ‘winterless’ north where plants which favour warmer climates flourish. Each gardener has used the sub-tropicals to paint their garden portraits in strikingly different ways, from bold to delightfully restrained palettes. Dragon trees, palms, cactus and bromeliad thrive alongside fuschia, hibiscus, ginger and clipped coprosma in resort-like settings. I was also impressed with the Whangarei Quarry Gardens which we keep promising to visit but never seem to achieve.

Further south in Auckland, natural bush morphs into a garden full of selected native trees, shrubs and grasses, augmented with sculpture. Elsewhere a garden is devoted to flower-themed sculpture. And then comes a delightful insight into Auckland’s Botanic Gardens. I really enjoyed the featured public gardens as much as the private. On this topic, there is a generous section on Hamilton Gardens, which in itself comprises multiple outstanding themed gardens of such extra-ordinary beauty and diversity they would make the heart of even the most jaundiced visitor swell.

I also enjoyed glimpses of the grand houses and their surrounding gardens and the mind-blowing Paloma Garden in Whanganui which looks as if it belongs in Northland. Ditto Blenheim’s Welton House which is a brother-sister collaboration of extraordinary beauty. The inclusion of the oft-featured Ohinetahi is also appreciated and especially poignant since the passing of its creator, Sir Miles Warren.

And my heart, quite literally, missed a beat when I saw again the images of Southland’s Maple Glen Garden which I recognised straight away, having featured it in several magazines over the years. It is considered to by acclaimed British garden photographer Derek Fell to be this country’s best; a garden of true international significance.

If you have a passionate gardener in your life, this lovely book might make a great Christmas present for them.

Reviewer: Peta Stavelli



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