Tag Archives: Akaroa

Fisherman’s Bay Garden, Akaroa, New Zealand..

I first read about Fisherman’s Bay garden in a book called Dreamscape. This incredibly diverse garden is set along the rugged Banks Peninsula in the South Island of New Zealand.

Needless to say, it was number one on my wish list, when we visited New Zealand in December 2019.

Fisherman’s Bay farm is just 20 minutes away from the pretty village of Akaroa, and includes 100 hectares (250 acres) of regenerating protected native bush in the two coastal valleys.

Jill Simpson, and her husband Richard have a farm and a garden in this beautiful but challenging landscape. Richard says it is just as well the native bush land is protected or they might find themselves making that into a garden too!

When  Jill and Richard moved to Fisherman’s Bay in the late nineties the house and the farm were their top priorities. However, over time, Jill went from drawing landscape designs to planting the garden intensely.

The day we arrived, both Jill and her husband Richard were very busy getting ready for Christmas, just 10 days away. Despite this, they were very welcoming, especially considering they were expecting their family….. including 10 grandchildren…to arrive soon!

They invited us to walk through the garden and take as long as we liked..and this is where we began..

In 2007, Jill and Richard cleared some areas near the farmhouse, and were originally thinking of planting a vegetable garden. However, Jill had always wanted a double flower border.

The plantings in these gardens are a fairly traditional mixture of roses, shrubs and perennials. Jill says ”as time has gone by, parts of the garden represent different parts of my life. This long border is a memory of cottage gardens popular everywhere when my children were young.’

The garden slopes down towards the coast, winding paths leading the way through a shady fern gully, to perennial gardens, to an exposed rock garden..all of it a feast for the eyes!

Jill has designed her garden with the structure and texture of New Zealand native plants combined with a diverse array of non-native plants.

Red Daylilies growing in and around the Smoke bush.

She has made sure that plantings become more naturalistic and less structured as you move away from the house.

The white flowering bush (Cornus) was creamy white when we were there in December, and now (looking at the garden on Instagram) it is pink. …which is just as striking.

The huge skies, the cliffs and the views of the sea, are all part of the garden, thanks to Jill’s skilful design.

In recent times, Jill has been influenced by European and American gardens seen on overseas holidays. ”As time has gone by, parts of the garden represent different parts of my life.”

How true this is of many gardeners….

 

She has taken the ideas from the new perennial movement in the UK…

and the Prairie style in the US and interpreted these ideas and plants into her New Zealand landscape.

 

Toitoi and a New Zealand grass Anementhele lessoniana on the right.

Despite the pleasant summer weather during our visit,  Richard said winters can be a challenge.

Akaroa and the Fisherman’s Bay are at the Southern tip of the Banks Peninsula, and are exposed to winds from the Antarctic ..

Looking across the sea from here, the next land mass is the Antarctic.  Well, at least that is one  weather problem Aussies do not have! (except in Tasmania)

Jill is a keen collector of native hebes, and the garden has more than 150 species (at last count) and cultivars.

 

Arthropodium cirratum in flower

We saw many of these pretty white flowers in parks and gardens in New Zealand. They are very hardy plants and flower for an extended time in summer.

Jill is also featured in a book called Flourish…which profiles some New Zealand gardens and their creators..

what I’ve learnt is that you can’t go against such an amazing landscape. The garden has to work with it..”

At the end of our stroll through this beautiful garden Richard invited us to sit and have some coffee in their barn, now used as a tea/coffee room, filled with gardening books and interesting magazines which Fisherman’s Bay garden has been featured in… A lovely end to the day..

Many thanks to Jill and Richard, for allowing us to visit their garden at this time. It lived up to all my expectations, and more.

It was a joy to look back at this garden during a summer of bushfires in Australia. It is a reminder of the pleasure and sense of place gardens bring to us all.

References:

Dreamscapes by Claire Takacs

Australian Dreamscapes by Claire Takacs

Jill Simpson Instagram:  fishermansbay.nz/

Claire Takacs: Instagram: clairetakacs

Copyright Geraldine Mackey: All Rights Reserved

 

Season’s greetings and blinded by greenery in New Zealand..

Looking back at this photo,  taken in November this year, it hardly seems possible that the mountains were so blue and the trees so healthy looking just a month ago.

The Brindabella Mountains near our home in Canberra

During December Canberra has had strong hot winds, and no rain….it is a bone dry brown city.

Although Canberra is not directly affected by bush fires at the moment, there are many bushfires (large and small)  burning across the country, most contained…..for the time being.

Depending on the winds, the grey clouds of smoke from nearby bush fires creep through the city most afternoons.

It was heartwarming to look back through photos and see this lovely King Parrot in spring, eating happily in our plum tree.

In November we also had a new group of Galahs coming to the birdbaths every morning.

Since this early start to a very hot summer, we keep the birdbaths full, and put little pebbles in the smaller bowls, to help the bees and and other insects land on the pebbles, before drinking. All need shade, and water is paramount.

Paul was due to go to conference in Auckland, New Zealand, in early December.

We were somewhat apprehensive about leaving home during these uncertain times, however, we took all the precautions we could before we left, and also had someone to come and water the garden.

photo by Affordable Travel Club

Looking at the above map you can see we are closer to New Zealand than to many parts of Australia. The map below shows that it only takes three hours to get to New Zealand from our region.

Despite our proximity to New Zealand, it is a very different country to Australia.  New Zealand  is lush and green with an abundance of water.

After leaving our smoke-filled city,  we landed in New Zealand, and as we  got off the plane we were almost blinded by the light and the greenery everywhere!

Water…water everywhere..

New Zealand is full of friendly people, magnificent scenery, National Parks, and wonderful gardens..

I intend writing a few posts on New Zealand after Christmas….but spoiler alert..

our Air BnB in Akaroa ..surrounded by a wonderful garden

The pretty little French town of Akaroa on the South Island is  a delight  to  visit…..

….and I have a few tempting photos of an incredible garden which will just take your breath away, Fisherman’s Bay Garden…

Jill Simpson, a keen gardener, has, with the help of her husband Richard, created a garden along the rugged and dramatic coastline of the Banks Peninsula. (New Zealand’s South Island)

In more recent times she was influenced by the new perennial movement in the UK and Europe, and the Prairie style in the US.

The garden has something for everyone…and to think they are at the Southern tip of the Banks Peninsula and are exposed to the winds from the Antarctic…..there is no excuse for the rest of us!

This is a garden that will make you want to jump onto the next flight to New Zealand, and if you can’t do that, well, at least you can read my blog posts early next year on this garden and more..

Meanwhile, back home, it has been a very tough week for most of Australia. Record high temperatures, fires and smoke in almost every state. Thank goodness the temperatures are due to drop next week…and hopefully in time for Christmas.

I know what Australians would love most for Christmas……… rain!

Many thanks for reading my blog today, and during the year. I enjoy writing about green spaces, and I love reading blogs from all over the world….a little slice of life from other people, who may be far away, but share ideas and ideals…. how similar we all are despite our differences.

Season’s greeting to you all, and may Christmas and the New Year, bring peace, harmony and some common sense to the world in 2020.

Copyright: Geraldine Mackey: All Rights Reserved.