White Waratah


This Telopea “Bridal Gown” was planted three and half years ago. It has flowered every year, sometimes twice. The flowers keep well in a vase and I have harvested them quite hard to keep the bush more compact. It’s getting out of reach now!

The yellow Leucospernum in front of the waratah is “High Gold” and it has performed just as well. The blue/mauve flowers are Heliotropium commonly called “Cherry Pie”. It flowers non–stop and has been cut back several times already. It has a haunting perfume.

Rock Hoppers

Lush planting
Detailed planting by the house.

A month ago I visited Gordon and Rosie Speedy’s fabulous garden Rock Hoppers with a gardening group. It is so full of interesting and different plants and ideas it is impossible to give more than a fleeting glimpse here.

Diverse plantings
General view to distant hills.

At 4 ha there is plenty of room for diverse plantings. The land is volcanic with an abundance of stone. Originally farm land it was stone walled in the early 1900s. The drier areas in the garden are very suitable for growing proteas, aloes and other species often difficult to grow well in Northland’s copious rainfall. The maintenance of this large garden is a credit to this energetic and creative couple.

Dry Stone Wall
Dry Stone Wall.

There are many quirky structures and sculptures around the garden including this effective use of old blue bottles.

Blue Bottles

This rustic hut hides amongst some colourful planting.

Bush Hut
Bush Hut.

Unusual use of barbed wire!

Barbed Wire
Barbed wire bottle

The plentiful water from local springs near the garden is used to form large, naturalistic ponds adding a liveliness to the landscape. This garden is open to viewing and also available for wedding venues. There is a small informal cafe in the garden.


Looking down the steps

These steps have been planned for a while. This week they happened. The main reason for replacing the narrow, steep grass path here was to install a drainage system underneath them. The storm water from our neighbour above rushed down the slope, scouring out the garden and killing off several plants that couldn’t cope with the boggy conditions.

Looking up the steps

Jason designed these steps and Ryan built them. We have already had heavy rain and can see the water rushing, as planned, out at the base of the steps and over the lawn, down to the pond.

Water gushing from pipe
Capturing the flood

Walking up the steps is pleasure compared to the slippery grass path which was difficult to mow.


Gordonia yunnanensis
Gordonia yunnanensis

Gordonia yunnanensis is a fabulous shrub/small tree. It has a huge number of very large white, camellia-like flowers over a long time from now on through winter. You can see from the number of buds how floriferous it is. The foliage is slightly bluey and stands up to wind well. It would make a very good informal hedge as it grows quite upright and remains well clothed right to the ground. It is much more manageable than its fellow species, Gordonia lasianthus which grows into a large spreading tree also covered in smaller white flowers for a long period. 

Gordonia yunnanensis
Gordonia yunnanensis