I often remind myself that this piece of land, the whole 11.4 acres, is ours. It has been our turangawaewae since the bleak Queen’s Birthday weekend in 1976 when we made the move from the warm house we had built near the sea in Beachlands into the old, cold kauri villa on land near Clevedon that we dreamed of growing kiwifruit on. That was a dream not pursued.
We started work in the garden that winter growing vegetables, flowers and shrubs in the rich soil around the house. Soon after, the first trees were planted. The walnut on the north side of the house, the first ‘significant’ tree we planted, marked the birth of Sarah. There was no grand plan for the planting, just spur-of-the moment bursts of activity: a new fence built or an old fence shifted; a bare, grassy patch, or a pocket of swamp, planted. A mini-arboretum in the making.
Distinctive areas of planting emerged: Sarah’s Native Bush, the Conifer Patch; the Native Patch; Gingko Rise, the Gallipoli Oak, Fern Gully and Autumn Corner. Each signifies an inspiration and follow-up physical effort. Garden plots were dotted around, enabling us to enjoy near self-sufficiency in vegetables.
If you had asked me forty years ago if I would become attached to a small, featureless piece of land on the outskirts of Auckland I would have scoffed. Land was for growing crops or grazing animals, not beautification and I thought I had more important things to do with my time. Now, I get deep satisfaction from standing amidst my plantings and contemplating the past, when the land was all pasture and swamp, and anticipating the future, when, hopefully, our trees will be giving pleasure to a future generation.
So, what next? In 2015 we will plant trees to mark the arrival of our new mokopuna. It will be ‘Kimiora’s Patch’.