Wind garden

Lynley and Dave McMillan have done what they can to mitigate the effects of the wind on their 2ha country garden in the Western Bay of Plenty but have now decided to enjoy it and not fight it.

“Our biggest enemy here is the westerly wind,” Lynley says. `”We put in a lot of hedges to take the sting out of it but then decided to stop fighting it and let the wind sculpt the garden.”


A pair of silver birches in the background have been only part-protected by a hedge. Photo: Sandra Simpson

A fig tree has been pushed over by a gale, but still produces a good crop and a cabbage tree has sent up eight new trees from its prone trunk.

`”Things get bent and twisted and shaped by the wind but that’s okay with us,” Lynley says. `”It’s all part of nature’s design.”

Their 10ha lifestyle block includes an organic lemon orchard, Highland cattle, llamas and the terraced garden, complete with rustic cottage that is used by corporate clients.

“People coming from glass and concrete just love being here,” says Lynley who co-owns Simply Strategic, a business consultancy, with Dave, a talented painter who in 2010 published a guide to motivation, Swimming Naked with Sharks (video of Dave talking about its business application, 7min14).

mcmillan-coral bark

Winter reveals the colour of the coral bark maple. Photo: Sandra Simpson

Water from the house roof makes a feature at the front door, which is reached by stepping stones, and runs downhill to form a small lake in front of the cottage – although ducks clambering in and out occasionally damage the lining and the water disappears.

There is a “family” of three magnolias around the cottage, one in memory of Lynley’s Waihi grandmother, one for her Aunty Ruby and one given to Lynley for a birthday, the deep colour of which has inspired her to create a “black” garden including tulips, dahlias, maples, coprosmas, flax, ajuga and bearded iris.

Lynley has planted 1000 bluebell bulbs under trees and says they are naturalising nicely. The garden also features a huge assortment of trees, including a home orchard, pohutukawa, Prunus serrula (a flowering cherry with distinctive peeling bark), ashes, a tupelo, pin oaks and a new planting of maples.


Willow branches are supple enough to weave in the winter. Photo: Sandra Simpson

At this time of the year Lynley’s favourite is the willow. “For about two months the new growth is very flexible and strong, perfect for weaving.”

Besides making weavings of all sizes, Lynley has also started weaving a willow arch from two living trees, sculpting it into shape as it grows, and would like to create a willow seat the same way.


A painting on glass by Dave Macmillan. Photo: Sandra Simpson

The grassed paths that link the levels have been widened three times, once because the couple realised they wanted to walk side by side when they’re elderly.

“We wanted a garden we could keep fit in,” Lynley laughs, “and we got it. But we also wanted a garden we didn’t have to obsess about. Gardens can be work instead of pleasure.”


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