Floral flavour to lifestyle

Life and a living at this Brixton property

Last updated 15:19 22/02/2013
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Blooming good 2.6ha lifestyle property.

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Life on their Richmond Rd property has been blooming good for Graham and Lynne
Mulvay.

For more than 20 years, they have been growing flowers on the 2.6ha lifestyle
property just out of New Plymouth for local, national and international markets. Only
this week, shipments have been sent off to Tahiti and Japan.

They've also raised a family here, but with two sons now off to university and
beyond, they have decided it is time for a change and their present lifestyle is up for
sale.

Graham and Lynne's venture here started in 1991, when they bought the property
from neighbour Ted Roberts, who established the original flower-growing operation.
Funnily enough, Ted is involved in marketing the present property sale process as a
consultant with real estate firm Bayleys.

The 1991 purchase was a natural extension of Graham's horticultural and landscaping
skills, honed during his time as a landscape designer with the New Plymouth District
Council.

Plastic-clad growing 'houses' were part of the purchase, but there was no residence
on the land that Ted had subdivided. So Graham and Lynne built a board-and-batten
cottage-style home sitting on the ridgeline above the sheltered valley where the
flowers were grown and packed.

"With my background in landscaping, I could best plan where to put the house in
terms of the use of the land," Graham says. The site had no advantage for the flower
business, but was convenient to road access and offered a stunning view across the
valley to the mountain and ranges.

"The view of the mountain doesn't get much better than this." We admire it from a set
of French doors that open on to a west-facing deck that embraces the view in its full
grandeur.

That initial 113sqm home grew as well as the flowers. In later years, the couple added
larger living areas to the cottage increasing the footprint to more than 160sqm.

You don't realise that on first approach; the home looks to be a modestly sized
cottage nestled into its garden setting. "It's a Tardis," Lynne quips, as I point out its
deceptive size.

The new living areas feature raked ceilings and higher windows giving an extra sense
of space again. A second deck on the sunny north face is accessed from another set of
French doors, giving the family plenty of indoor-outdoor living options.

Graham planned the placement of trees and shrubs around the house to provide
dappled shade in the hotter months, with leaf drop opening up the house to the sun in
winter. It's a pleasing peaceful effect on the balmy morning of our visit here.

Those plantings have created a green embrace for the house which now looks well
settled into its environment. It looks as though it could have been here for decades
longer than it has. That impression is helped partly by Graham's decision not to stain
the batten details of the exterior, letting them grey naturally with sun and weather.

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Inside again, up the hallway, there are three double bedrooms and an office. It's an
extra wide hallway to accommodate the wheelchair needed by one of their sons and
the bathroom is a fully featured paraplegic design as well with sliding doors off the
hallway to ease its use.

The real focus of this property, however, is below the house, masked by the trees
and plantings that have matured over the past couple of decades. A short stroll takes
us down the tree-lined drive to the tunnelhouses, covered growing areas and flower-
packing facilities.

Along the way, Graham points out elements of the operation - the plentiful plantings
of magnolia that are part of the landscape as well as growing in neat rows further into
the property. The more than 300 specimens of magnolia are there, not so much for
their own blooms, as their glossy green foliage.

"Every bunch of flowers needs foliage," Graham explains, and he and Lynne provide
a variety of soft and striking choices for floral designers. As well as the magnolia,
there are more delicate branchings of silver birch from small saplings that Graham
points out growing around the property, the spear-like leaves of flax, and the softer
forms of aralia.

When Graham and Lynne first bought this property, flower crops incuded gypsophila,
alstroemeria, kangaroo's paw, nerines and statice. The gypsophila, popular as it once
was, has been phased out, Lynne says. "There's not even a plant on the property
now."

Today, a tour through the crop areas will reveal a wealth of richly coloured and
textured blooms, from hydrangeas and gloriosa to anemones and the still-popular
kangaroo's paw.

The rows of bold blue hydrangeas are planted in the ground, but nearby are rows of
bagged hydrangeas with vivid pink blooms. The acidity of the growing medium and
thus the depth of pink colour is better controlled in bags, Graham explains.

Just one of those perfect pink globular blooms will return the couple $4, he adds. And
it doesn't take long for a good income to build up. The pink colours are particularly
appealing to the Asian markets, he says.

As well as packing facility, there is a chiller for keeping cut flowers in good
condition, and a fumigation chamber for export blooms.

Graham says he and Lynne have enjoyed their lifestyle here. "But we are not getting
any younger. The number of growers is reducing and the market for flowers is
growing ... we've just seen the strongest Valentines Day market for several years. So
the opportunity is there for a young person to get into it ... to tick it over as it is or

build it up."

The property and its flower-growing operation is being sold as a going concern and
Graham says he is happy to plan a settling in period with new owners, helping them
become familiar with the business and its markets.

With his earlier background in the same business, Ted Roberts recognises that
potential for new owners to come into this property, get stuck into the business and
reap the real returns possible while enjoying living in this peaceful setting.

"I wouldn't like to pick the last time an opportunity like this came up for sale in the
region," Ted says.

QUICK LOOK

WHERE: 88 Richmond Rd, Brixton, New Plymouth.

HOW BIG: 2.6567ha in land; approximately240sqm in home.

HOW MUCH: $752,000 for the complete property, including all equipment and
plantings of the flower growing operation.

WHAT YOU GET: Comfortable, spacious cottage-style home on a lifestyle setting
that includes a busy flower growing and exporting operation in the valley below.

MARKETED BY: Ted Roberts at Bayleys - 06 754 8309 or 027 548 3099.

ON THE WEB: www.open2view.com - ref S286187; bayleys.co.nz - ref 521419.

SEE IT: Open home, Sunday, March 3, 3pm-3.45pm or by appointment.

- © Fairfax NZ News

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