Home and Garden
As I walk a cool and glossy trail through the native garden at Hunter's Wines, I can't help but feel a little vulnerable to the swift and swooping flight path of half a dozen tui.
But they're not interested in my transit through this lush sanctuary on Rapaura Road's otherwise vine-laden landscape, and their spectacular displays are surely more thrilling than threatening.
Before 2000, this half hectare area was a large-scale cottage garden, abundant in its roses, hollyhocks and lavender, pretty and fragrant and totally out of place.
Jane Hunter says one hot day she drove in and everything had wilted, “and I thought I can't stand it anymore”.
She contacted Christchurch landscape designer Di Lucas who came up with a stunning plan that ran through various bush strata from totara and kahikatea to flaxes and grasses, all placed to suit the property's various microclimates.
All the plants are typical of Marlborough, including those in a garden set aside for threatened South Marlborough endemic species.
Along the edge there's a kowhai belt and a tall tangle of muehlenbeckia, which is all some cellar door visitors see of the native paradise that has flourished since.
But even they can hear raucous birdsong, predominantly tui and bellbirds, which regularly erupts from within the bush.
“It started with a few tui, but now they're all fighting over space out there,” says Jane, who has signed the space up for the Marlborough District Council Tui to Town project, which promotes and records the reintroduction of tui to the Wairau Plains.
Visitors who do stride into the bush to take the winding path past sculpture and lush green fronds, are in for a treat.
On the far side they reach a stand of gum trees, which were kept in the design despite their exotic nature, as evidence of the company's 30-year history in the region.
The garden won the Landscape Award in the 2009 Marlborough Environment Awards, receiving praise for the winery's outstanding and distinctive setting, but Jane says the greatest reward is looking out her office window and seeing visitors enjoying the trees, and dodging the tui.
“It's lovely to see our visitors able to enjoy, in a condensed kind of area, the delights of native New Zealand bush.”
WIN THIS WINE
Hunter's have a magnificent giveaway this week, in the form of two magnums of its 2011 Sauvignon Blanc.
Because it's in a magnum, the wine will age better than a standard bottle and can either be drunk now, or in five or six years' time.
The magnums were produced to celebrate the 30-year anniversary of Ernie Hunter's first vintage in 1982, when his Marlborough Muller Thurgau Dry won at the National Wine Show.
If you're over 18 years old and want to go in the draw to win a magnum, clip this item from the Marlborough Express August 10 and send it to
c/o PO Box 242,
by 5pm, Thursday, June 16.
Remember to write your name, address and daytime phone number on the back of the envelope.
- The Marlborough Express