by Helen Martin
Given that South Kaipara boasts so many different and varied gardens it’s great to see them attracting outside interest.
A summer trip to Helensville of the Hibiscus Coast Garden Club on a gloriously sunny day began with a visit to the Railway Museum, where museum volunteers entertained the group with stories about the place and its history.
The first garden they visited was Bron Smith’s. “I told the organiser, Marion McCracken, that Ruth’s Gardens is really just a working vegetable patch, but she said they go to all sorts of gardens and they were keen to come,” says Bron. As well as providing her 48 guests with morning tea (“I put my catering hat on”) Bron, who has run microgreen growing workshops but for whom this visit from the public was a first, gave a formal talk explaining her permaculture, organic and biodiversity principles then walked round her three-acre Manuka Grove garden with the guests, showing them her trees, beehives and edible plants and answering their many questions. “It was quite delightful. I think I take for granted how beautiful it is where we live and lots of them were very keen to chat to me.”
After spending an hour and a half at Bron’s the garden club visitors were bussed to the Rogan Ave home of Raywin and Wayne Cruikshank for lunch. Greenlaw Bed and Breakfast, named after a Cruikshank family property in England, has a beautiful cottage garden on its acre of land, and the owners enjoy sharing it with the public. “When we came here 30 years ago, we chopped out the only two trees that were here and then I proceeded to plant the garden out,” says Raywin. “Then about 10 years ago we set up as a B and B. People come because they love the peace and quiet and listening to the birds.” After lunching at Greenlaw, wandering around the garden and admiring Raywin’s paintings, the group got back on the bus for their last stop, the Mahoenui gardens in Coatesville.
Raywin describes the experience of opening up her garden to the public as a real pleasure. “It’s lovely to share what you do because there’s a common interest. In a humble way, it’s knowing people enjoy it as much as I do.”