Top Kiwi gardener receives honour and tells how it's done

Trott's garden in Ashburton features a world-class knot garden. Alan Trott, who developed it, recently received a QSM ...
DANIEL ALLEN

Trott's garden in Ashburton features a world-class knot garden. Alan Trott, who developed it, recently received a QSM for services to horticulture.

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

Catherine and Alan Trott in their Ashburton garden.
DANIEL ALLEN

Catherine and Alan Trott in their Ashburton garden.

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.

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Brick pillars and macrocarpa hedges lend structure to the twin herbaceous borders which stretch for 110m.
DANIEL ALLEN

Brick pillars and macrocarpa hedges lend structure to the twin herbaceous borders which stretch for 110m.

 

CONCENTRATE ON COLOUR

"There are a lot of gardens out there that are sterile and have no wow factor," Trott said.

The red garden - Trott is a fan of using colourful planting combinations.
DANIEL ALLEN

The red garden - Trott is a fan of using colourful planting combinations.

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.

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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.

When Alan Trott decided he was "sick of roses", they were replaced with traditional knot gardens.
DANIEL ALLEN

When Alan Trott decided he was "sick of roses", they were replaced with traditional knot gardens.

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.

On the east side of the property, amid rhododendrons and maples, a yellow tree peony 'Age of Gold' flourishes (in the ...
DANIEL ALLEN

On the east side of the property, amid rhododendrons and maples, a yellow tree peony 'Age of Gold' flourishes (in the foreground).

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.

A bed of valerian in the centre of the garden.
DANIEL ALLEN

A bed of valerian in the centre of the garden.

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. 

A pretty pink maple called 'Esk Sunset' (right) is reflected in the pond in the centre of the garden; the sculpture in ...
DANIEL ALLEN

A pretty pink maple called 'Esk Sunset' (right) is reflected in the pond in the centre of the garden; the sculpture in the background was made by Alan from fibreglass rods set in concrete.

 - NZ House & Garden

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