Six years ago John and Geraldine Carleton sold their farm in Stanley Brook and built a new house on what was then a broom and gorse-covered knoll.
Today, hardly a trace of the gorse and broom exists and instead a one hectare garden graces the knoll, with its commanding views of the Mt Arthur range and the Stanley Brook valley below.
Geraldine, who has always been a keen and tireless gardener, had to leave behind an established garden on their former property.
Luckily, her daughter, who lives on their old property, was not keen on maintaining the large garden and was only too happy for her mother to reduce its size by removing many of the plants to the new site.
Most of them have flourished under Geraldine’s tender care with only a few losses from the shift.
Geraldine describes herself as a ‘‘plantaholic’’ and cannot resist fossicking around local nurseries for interesting plants to add to her considerable collection.
Her former garden was on the valley floor and had much better soil than the new site, which is entirely based on Moutere clay.
Geraldine mulches her garden with pea straw and copious quantities of farm animal manure to improve the soil structure and to deter the gorse and broom seeds, which she says can remain viable in the soil for about 20 years.
This technique obviously works well as hardly any of these former weeds can be seen on the site and looking at the incredible growth, it seems hard to believe that the oldest parts have been in place for just six years.
It also has something to do with the fact that nearly all of Geraldine’s waking hours are spent tending to her beloved garden.
Geraldine describes it as a cottage garden and has used many of the perennial plants traditionally associated with this style, such as lupins, irises, delphiniums, foxgloves, daffodils, tulips, old-fashioned roses, rhododendrons and azaleas.
Geraldine has used old totara paling fences previously used as farm fencing to divide the garden into a series of ‘‘garden rooms’’, and has incorporated some old farm machinery, such as ploughs and wagon wheels, to add points of interest.
Not long ago John suffered a serious accident on the farm.
The rescue helicopter had to be called out from Nelson and undoubtedly saved his life.
To show their appreciation, Geraldine is opening her garden to the public to try to raise some funds for this worthwhile service.
The garden will be opened from November 1 to November 7, between 10am and 4pm.
Entry is by donation and proceeds will go to Nelson Marlborough Rescue helicopter.
So go for a drive in the country, which is looking beautiful at this time of the year, and help support this necessary service.
The garden will be signposted and is up the first driveway on the right on the Upper Stanley Brook Rd, just off the Motueka Valley Highway, five kilometres north of Tapawera.
There will be a sign on the main road.