2015 Garden 13 - Parnell
Phillip and his wife Anne have been in this home for 23 years and he has planted the entire site, apart from an ancient nikau which he believes dates back to the days when Sir George Grey lived on what was then Point Resolution. Parnell was New Zealand’s first suburb and he is always digging up shells, not from a midden, as he first thought, but more likely the remnants of old shell paths laid down by the early European settlers.
The small west-facing urban site – less than 500 square metres – has its challenges, being shady in the mornings and sunny in the afternoons.
Phillip is driven by a keen curiosity for plants worldwide – particularly tropical rainforest plants, before they are destroyed. He has been all over south East Asia to view them in the wild: Sarawak, northern Borneo, the cliffs of Lord Howe Island and throughout Indonesia.
There is a ‘His and Hers’ aspect to the garden – Anne has the area adjacent to the house whereas Phillip’s is the garden they look out onto from the living room. Hers is filled with flowering plants and the vegetable garden – all in pots. Purple beans for colour, strawberries tumbling down, capsicums, aubergines, tomatoes and cucumbers are some of their favourites, plus the essential herbs.
“It’s easy to grow all of these in pots,” says Phillip, “but you have to water every day, so we always get someone to do that for us when we go away.” Phillip adds that the garden is in transition all the time – it used to be all roses, cottage garden, lavender and lace. Now he has fallen back in love with hydrangeas, apart from his favourite subtropical palms and bromeliads of course.