Worth visiting time and again

ROSEMARIE SMITH
Last updated 08:10 24/12/2013
Jenny and Arne Cleland
ROSEMARIE SMITH/Fairfax NZ
Jenny and Arne Cleland.

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Arne and Jenny Cleland's Pukerau garden has featured on this page, before, but ongoing visits confirm the pleasures of repetition, seeing how a garden changes with the seasons and how it matures with time.

When equinoctial gales are blowing, the first impression here is the strength of shelter.

These photos were taken on the wildest of days last week, when frigid winds were cutting to the bone. Yet all was calm, thanks to the very tall Leyland cypress hedge to the south, and successive belts of trees to the west. The shelter and some feature trees date from 35 years ago, when the Clelands began with bare paddock, but most of the garden is little more than 20 years old.

They describe it as a true New Zealand garden, encompassing exotic trees representing our European ancestors melded with indigenous plants.

"Actually it's a completely native garden," Arne says, with the barest hint of mischief.

"They're all natives to somewhere."

One of the specialities is low- maintenance ground cover, and the Clelands use mass planting to great effect.

As Jenny says, "It's not a fussy garden."

There's a wide range of textural contrast, but no great blazing colour display, by the owners preference for subtlety but also because rhododendrons don't do so well here.

It's a bit of a frost hollow, and this year's late frosts have thinned the usual display of wisteria dripping across the house frontage.

No garden this size is truly easy-care, but maintenance now involves only little bits of tweaking, like removing trees they always knew would have to go.

Having planted for bees and birds, they are thrilled to now have bellbirds nesting, and kereru call in for the kowhai.

Shrubbery borders feature many natives with interesting sculptural form, from the bare whips of a weeping broom to the fine- textured olearia fragrantissima and cabbage trees with their textured trunks - and gorgeous fragrance.

As operators of a nursery specialising in New Zealand natives, all plants are 'eco- sourced' from seed of survivors of the 1990s Big Freeze that left so many gardeners cautious about natives.

Entry to the garden is a $5 donation which goes to either arthritis or breast cancer charities.

Jenny says they love showing visitors around, and it also gives pleasure knowing the garden is helping support those causes.

Anyone who has not visited yet but has this garden on their 'get-round-to-someday' list should be aware the Clelands are talking retirement in their five-year plan.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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