Top Kiwi gardener receives honour and tells how it's done
Want a garden with the wow factor? Alan Trott, who has spent 35 years developing an Ashburton garden that's been judged one of New Zealand's finest, has just been awarded a Queen's Service Medal for services to horticulture.
Here are his five tips for developing a top-notch garden.
YOU NEED A PLAN
Don't just get someone to design a garden for you without putting your own stamp on it, advises Trott. Look at books and magazines and visit lots of gardens to work out what you like before you start planning your garden.
Trott believes it's much easier to have the passion to keep it looking perfect if you love what's in it.
CONCENTRATE ON COLOUR
"There are a lot of gardens out there that are sterile and have no wow factor," Trott said.
That's why he loves perennials, those trusty plants that pop up every spring, filling the garden with foliage and flowers and offering scope to create beautiful colour combinations.
Dahlias are one of Trott's favourites for trouble-free colour.
"They flower for four or five months and are so much less work than roses," he said.
PUT IN A HEDGE OR TWO
As well as providing shelter from the wind, hedges give a garden structure and provide a lovely soft backdrop for planting.
In Trott's opinion, hedges should be green (he's not in favour of hedges with yellow or purple foliage).
His own garden has macrocarpa hedges, but English beech makes a fine hedge. And hedges are not hard work, he says. A twice-yearly trim will keep them looking sharp.
LAWNS MAKE A GARDEN
Trott is known in gardening circles for his immaculate lawns, which set off his perennial borders and knot garden.
If you want a smooth lawn, sow fescue, he suggests. He keeps his lawns weed-free with an annual spray and feeds them in autumn and early spring.
GROW PLANTS THAT WILL THRIVE
"I only grow hardy plants. I don't grow anything that needs to be covered if there's a frost on the way," he said.
Trott's Garden has been judged a Garden of International Significance by the New Zealand Gardens Trust and attracts visitors from all over the world – and it's that chance to meet and chat with hundreds of gardeners that makes the years of hard work worthwhile, he said.
Whether his visitors are duchesses or down-to-earth gardeners, they're all nice people, says Trott.
"I enjoy meeting them all and getting ideas from them too," he says.
- NZ House & Garden