Garden style

A structured and semi-formal garden in Blenheim

Creating her dream garden was worth the wait for this Blenheim gardener

One of the joys of gardening is to see your vision gradually take shape from year to year. Southland-born Dianne Croad had always yearned for a garden where she could do just that, but her late husband Neil’s career meant the family moved regularly to different parts of the country. Many gardens were started but had to be left before they were fully developed. Sixteen years ago, after their three children had left home, the couple decided to settle in Blenheim near the Wither Hills. Here Dianne has finally created her dream garden, a small, beautifully planned oasis filled with clipped green hedges, flowers, vegetables and artworks.

The best planting for the dry Marlborough region

Irrigation is key to successful planting in the dry Marlborough region but, as parts of the steeply sloping garden could not be irrigated, Dianne had to choose plant species that could survive the harsh conditions. “I’ve had to make many changes over the years and continue to do so,” she admits.

Despite the dry weather, roses flourish here, as do clematis, flowering cherries, cornus, crab apples, weeping pears and several fruit trees. To give the garden the strongly structured feel she was aiming for, Dianne has planted an extensive number of hedges, most of them box and abelia, the latter species thriving in the areas where clay still dominates the soil.

She’s passionate about her topiaries, which are a mixture of buxus, ivy and lonicera. “I find clipping very relaxing and rewarding. I do it once a year but do have help with cutting the hedges.”

Dianne is also a very keen vege gardener, growing a large range of veges and herbs which she shares with her family. As space is fairly tight, she rotates the different crop families (legumes, root vegetables, brassicas and so forth) to avoid pests and diseases building up in the soil.

Words by: Carol Bucknell. Photography by: Juliet Nicholas.