In the October holidays I visited the small city of New Plymouth, on the west coast of New Zealand's North Island.
This area is known for its beautiful gardens, and the climate lends itself particularly to rhododendrons, azaleas, roses, and other temperate beauties. Because of its closeness to a dormant volcano, Mt Taranaki, the winters are cold and there is more than enough rain - as I was about to find out!
I'm no great expert or fantastic gardener, but I was determined to see at least the three main public gardens; I'd never before been in the area at the peak of the
It rained for most of the week, but I was intrepid!
Tupare is close to the residential area of the city; it was begun in 1932 and covers 3.6 hectares (9 acres) of hillside and river banks. The original house sits down in a valley, and the walking tracks follow the contours of the hillside
Wisteria grows along the top of an arbour near the house
...I hadn't been there long before it began to rain heavily
So I took a couple more rhodo shots, then scuttled back up the hill to the carpark.
I got very wet....
This is also the garden where I found those luminous echiums:
The next morning I set off for Hollard Garden, 4.5 hectares (11 acres) on farming land. This was begun in 1927 by Bernie and Rose Hollard - he was a keen and knowledgeable plantsman, best known for his hybrid Rh. Kaponga.
There were many lovely examples of Bernie's pride and joy, his creation Rhododendron Kaponga, a beautiful clear red
I loved this creamy-yellow one:
But again the rain came down, so heavily that I was forced to retreat once again.
A few days later I had more luck at Pukeiti, the largest of them all; 360 hectares (890 acres) of regenerating rainforest, with 20 hectares of hybrid and species rhodos, along with many unusual shrubs and trees from all over the world. It was established in 1951, and is an internationally recognised garden and plant collection. The weather was overcast but only slightly damp, and I enjoyed wandering the garden for several hours.
Here are some of the shots I took:
The garden is the poor man's apothecary.