When Tony and Margaret Morrison moved into their home on the outskirts of Blenheim 47 years ago, it was a simple white farmhouse with a sparse garden, surrounded by bare paddocks.
Now their Fairhall garden pours out over the landscape in generous ripples of colour and texture, each border representing when more paddock was taken for garden.
"My father liked to chop down trees," says Tony. "He wanted to grow grass to feed cows. Now that he has gone I like to think of him looking down on me with all these trees."
At first glance, it could be a simple home garden of flowerbeds, but turn a corner and you'll find a glade of leafy trees and a paddock full of bright yellow dandelion heads. Turn another and an old concrete water trough is revealed as a trickling water feature, merging the property's former and current lives.
An old horse-drawn mower and antique metal milk cans are woven into the garden plan, reflecting Tony's hoarding spirit and the farm this once was.
A claw-foot bathtub converted into a garden seat is the deep blue of the Richmond Ranges, and provides a perfect view to a long stretch of peonies, Tony's "treasures", and the downy pink blossoms of cherry trees beyond.
"The fence once came to here, but I wanted peonies, so we pushed it out," says Tony, something I hear, one way or another, many times over while viewing the garden's layers. During the past five decades the fence has been moved five times.
Walk along the wide stretch of lawn between the budding peony blooms, and the pink blossoms are revealed as part of an arboretum, where long rows of cherry trees lead to a feature brick wall with a stately marble urn at its centre.
Made in England and shipped to New Zealand for this very spot, the 170-kilogram piece looks right at home.
Retreat back up the tree-lined field, where grass is covered by a carpet of fallen blossoms, and there's another treat in store, with a rose arbour providing views
across - to a wild flurry of forget-me-nots and purple iris and to a ‘Nancy Haywood' rose, red and rampant in a tree above.
The couple's ability to preen and prune and pull where needed, but also leave some plants to grow wild, like the stunning red rose and an ivy colonising a nearby tree, is quite a trick. After years of practise, they have come up with a lovely balance of formal and wild.
Around the next corner is a narrow wisteria pergola, with a marble statue at the end, emerging at the roadside garden, which is dominated by a large fish pond, home to a young family of ducks.
When I arrive, unprepared for the peaceful paradise on New Renwick Rd, my first impression is the classical music coming from an enclosed barbecue area, and my second is of the sound of water trickling.
Water is a key element of the garden, which has a number of features burbling and bubbling away, a peaceful noise in place of the moo-ing that once dominated the sound waves.
If Tony's penchant is his bathtub creations and antique garden installations, Margaret's is her "playhouse", a small, shaded glass house for her ferns.
She has a photo of herself gardening at the age of 4, and has clearly found a haven in this transformed property.
They head to the garden centres together and return laden with finds, then work out where they'll fit or which fence will have to be moved.
Then they work in the garden together "although sometimes we have a hard time finding each other", says Margaret.
The couple came here in 1965, having lived in a cottage next door until Tony's father moved. They sold most of the land, but kept enough to keep the grapes a good distance from their doorstep.
"I'd hate to be hemmed in by grapes," Margaret says.
That's perhaps the only guarantee their whole three hectares won't be transformed into garden, ripple by ripple.
A HELPING HAND
Tony is a volunteer for the Marlborough Food Bank and Alzheimer's Marlborough.
Two years ago the Morrisons were in Hunter's and raised more than $3000 for Alzheimer's Marlborough.
Any funds raised from this year's tour of the property will also go to the organisation.
- The Marlborough Express
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