Western Bay of Plenty gardener Chloe Wright loves spring and has planted her two properties to mark the change of season, not always easy in a sub-tropical area.
“Perhaps it’s because I grew up in [temperate] Wellington with mad-keen gardeners for parents,” she says, “but I like being able to see the seasons really change.”
Chloe has more opportunity than most to plant for the seasons with a large garden around her Omokoroa home and 16ha of farm at Pahoia. When she and husband Wayne bought the latter property in 1994 it was a rundown kiwifruit orchard with shelterbelts. Since then she has developed the land to indulge her two loves – horses and gardening.
There is a stables, dressage arena, show-jumping arena and a 2.5km cross-country course all designed to fit with the theme of an English parkland, developed with the help of Ginny Clark at Décor Greenworld.
The farm, home to Omokoroa Pony Club and the site of one-day events, now has ponds, hundreds of new trees and it contours reshaped. “My relaxations are horses and gardening,” Chloe says. “Luckily, Wayne relaxes on a digger or bulldozer.”
Prunus Awanui has been planted extensively and Chloe thinks there is no better spring-flowering tree. However, there is a small group of Malus floribunda near the stables that may be giving the older trees a run for their money in her affections.
Both trees also give autumn colour, setting the hillsides aflame, along with oaks, maples, liquidambers, claret ash, gingkos and copper beeches, and Chloe has also put in groves of native trees for an evergreen backdrop.
Deciduous magnolias and forsythia add to the colour of spring, as do the hundreds of daffodils planted on hillsides.
Bluebells, freesias, tulips, snowdrops and other spring-flowering bulbs dot both the farm and her home garden.
“The riding fraternity says these are the best grounds in New Zealand and it makes me joyful to see the pony club here enjoying it all.”
Chloe, who supports a number of young riders who wouldn’t otherwise be able to enjoy the sport, says there is no issue with the many horses that come through the farm grazing on her trees. “It’s riding etiquette,” she says. “You don’t let your horse eat other people’s trees.”
At her home, Fallohide, she has a long border of azaleas and rhododendrons on one side of the driveway and a border of mixed bulbs on the other, including many spraxias.
“Every year I think I’ll pull them out,” she says of the spraxias, “but every year when they flower they look lovely so they stay.”
There is a Malus floribunda here too, with its carmine buds that open and pale with age to white blossom, but she’s unsure of the name of a white blossom tree by a stone arch, although believes it to be 30-odd years old.
“Every summer it gets a second blooming when the old-fashioned rose Souvenir de Mme Leonie Viennot scrambles through it and covers it in lovely buff-coloured blooms. I love the generosity and profusion in nature.”
- The farm property also operates as The French Country House boutique accommodation, run by Chloe’s daughter. Chloe and Wayne this year transferred their business, Kidicorp, to a charity trust, while last year Chloe realised a long-held dream with the opening of the private Bethlehem Birthing Centre.
This article was originally published in the Bay of Plenty Times and appears here with permission.