My Farm Garden

Driveway to our farm home

I’m a gardener, writer, and loved taking photos of my garden, as the seasons when by on Piko Road in Taranaki NZ.

It is now two years since we left the farm, I went back and had a look, it broke my heart it was terrible I can’t explain it here, it hurts after fifteen years hard work to keep it looking like a park garden, so I’m going to share my garden of what it looked like in those years we lived on our beef farm, it is still ours we haven’t sold it yet, hopefully Nov 2019 the sale will go through.

 I still have a large garden in my town home, which helps to avoid the up setting scene of my farm garden, the house is being rented.

Sharing a little about some of the shrubs and flowers I grew in the farm garden.

I like working with nature, nature tends to win anyway and the weeds keep growing!

My garden had many ground cover plants with shade perennials which bloom early in the season.

Rhododendron shrubbery, azaleas, wisteria, maples, hosta and many more.

Flowers or Hosta for ground coverage under trees

A flower bed under deciduous trees will be mostly spring-blooming.

That’s because most plants thrive in shade, including spring bulbs that naturalise, tend to bloom early before the trees leaf out.

This doesn’t mean there won’t be flowers in bloom during the rest of the season, but you’ll have a more limited palette of flowering plants to choose from.

When it comes to shade perennials, attractive leaf textures and colors are important because the foliage is your main feature through the season.

I love Hostas as they stop the growth of weeds, blooming in late spring with spikes of lavender to white, lily-like flowers, which can be quite showy.

The above photo looks like it is snowing but it is the Wisteria blossom dropping its petals, but quite a view with the Hosta below.

Camellias

Camellias

Camellias are hardy, they can be grown in most areas if provided with some shelter and a well-enriched slightly acid soil.

Water well in the summer time, but camellias do not like their roots sitting in water, better slightly raised bed with free draining.

Camellias will grow in light shade but a situation where they receive morning sun is recommended.

In the farm garden, I had 12 different colors and shapes of Camellia flowers.

Sweet Williams

Dianthus Barbatus (Sweet William) is a species of Dianthus, which has become a popular ornamental garden plant.

It is a herbaceous biennial or short-lived perennial plant growing to 30-75 cm tall, with flowers in a dense cluster of up to 30 at the top of the stems.

Each flower is 2-3 cm diameter with five petals displaying serrated edges.

The plants produce red flowers with a white base, but colors in cultivars range from white, pink, red, and purple or with variegated patterns.

It thrives in slightly alkaline soil withs unto partial shade, I find a very easy plant to grow.

Its flowers are considered edible and may have medicinal properties.

Sweet William flowers attract bees, birds, and butterflies.

Persian Silk Tree – Flowers Are Just Like Silk

Botanical name: Albizzia julibrissin (pronounced: al bit’ zee a jul i briss’ in).

Common name: Persian Silk Tree

The Silk Tree is a very useful shade tree in New Zealand since it gets its ferny leaves in late spring-early summer, just as the hot weather starts.

It grows well in the garden, as we get very cold weather in winter with not much sunshine, but being sheltered with ranges all around, it gets very hot in the summer, looks very nice until those possums, wood pigeons, plus other birds eat it and completely removes all leaves. I had two one pink the other peachy floor, sadly to say the pink one has died.

The Silk Tree produces its silky blooms during January and February, with its soft sweet perfume filling the garden on warm days.

Most trees are grown from seed with a wide variation of colors from white, cream, salmon and peachy pink tones.

Azaleas

Azaleas bloom in late winter and spring, and their flowers wilt only a few weeks later.

They are shallow rooters and must be planted quite firmly to prevent wind damage.

Azaleas do not need as much sun as other plants; they live near trees and sometimes under them, as the photo above in the garden, I am using them as a border to higher shrubs behind.

Azaleas grow best in well-drained soil, they do not like their roots sitting in water, as they are easily damaged by excessive soil moisture and grow best in acidic soil.

Flowers are single or double and have a wide range of colors from purple, to pink, white and red.

Azaleas vary in height from dwarf shrubs to 2 meters high.

The Azaleas are in fact Rhododendrons but gardeners know them as azaleas so we will refer to then under that name.

Maples

Acer is a genus of trees or shrubs commonly known as maple, there are approximately 129 species, most species are deciduous.

Maples must have shelter from winds, particle shade, and a sunny position.

Maples are very hardy to cold and as many deciduous trees the colder the autumn the brighter the leaf color.

A.palmatum ‘Dissectum’ the weeping Japanese maple, is a beautiful small tree for pool side planting and similar situations. they are green and purple leaved forms.

Most ornamental garden varieties of maple need a compost rich, well drained acid loam with dressings of well decayed mature in late autumn.

Hosta – Nice Ground Coverage Plants Under Trees.

My favorite for weed stoppers, because they need to be given ample room to grow and weeds do not thrive under those thick leaves once they get established and growing for the season.

Hosta are considered shade-tolerant plants, but most do not thrive if grown in deep shade, hosta grows best in an exposure with morning sun and afternoon shade.

I have hosta plants that produce very attractive flowers and some are fragrant.

A hosta plant generally reaches full maturity in 4 to 8 years.

Slugs and snails are the most common pest of hosta, they eat small round holes in the leaves so I usually use a slug bait if I want a good show season.

This photo was taken early in the spring, as in the forefront you can see a beautiful Iris, which are growing on the other side of the path.

Hosta popping through the ground

They look very nice in the spring popping up everywhere.

In December, summer in New Zealand, the garden looks good, for the holiday break, the flowers are appearing on the host-as, they look very attractive with their variegated leaves, the ground is still quite cool as we do not get hot weather until the new year.

Actually, it is quite amazing how much room they take up in the garden, at least they stop most of the weeds from growing.

It is a plant I would recommend for ground cover.

Rhododendrons

Rhododendrons are a favorite garden shrub and are grown extensively in New Zealand gardens especially in Taranaki.

Predominantly spring flowering, there are varieties which bloom in winter and early summer.

Rhododendrons are mostly evergreens and are hardy to cold.

They do not require shelter from winds and must have an acid soil preferably rich in humus.

Heavy feeding is beneficial but wait until after the flowering is over, so the plant does not bolt to quick leaf.

Rhododendrons range in size from dwarf shrubs to small trees, in color from white to pink, red, yellow orange, purple and blue.

Rhododendron Shrubbery

Rhododendrons pathway, these are scented, beautiful smell as you walk along the path.

This Rhododendron pathway is on the side of a pond with Flax on the right-hand side supporting the edge of the pond as we get very heavy rainfall at times.

On the left-hand side by the conifer another pathway goes up that is where the main Rhododendron Shrubs are facing the road.

Silver Ferns – NZ Natives

Pond goldfish in, with a walk across bridge.

The idea that all natives are tough plants, suitable for any conditions from drifting sands at the beach-front cottage to heavy clay in a frosty inland garden is a fallacy.

Silver Ferns need shelter from winds and frost.

It is very cold here in the winter, sometimes we can get frosts for a week or more, where the frost does not leave the ground and by the end of winter, they have no ferns left on them they have been completely burnt off.

But once the weather warms up in the spring it is not long before the new fronds appear.

Wisteria

Wisteria and Azalea scrub in the background.

This photo is the White Wisteria, I also have the Purple Wisteria.

Wisteria is very hardy and fast-growing, it can grow in fairly poor-quality soils, but prefers fertile, moist, well-drained ones, thrives in full sun to partial shade.

Wisteria can grow into a mound when unsupported but is at its best when allowed to clamber up a tree, pergola, wall, or other supporting structure. Whatever the case, the support must be very sturdy, because mature Wisteria can become immensely strong with heavy wrist-thick trunks and stems.

Wisteria flowers develop in buds near the base of the previous year’s growth, so pruning back side shoots to the basal, few buds in early spring can enhance the visibility of the flowers.

If it is desired to control the size of the wisteria, the side shoots can be shortened to between 20 and 40 cm long in mid-summer, and back to 10 to 20 cm in the fall.

In the background, is an Azalea which is an evergreen and flowers twice a year spring and autumn.

Hydrangeas in the Autumn

Hydrangeas in the autumn, bit untidy with leaves from the maple tree on the lawn.

Hydrangeas are hardy deciduous shrubs with showy flower heads, very rewarding scrub for the shady corner or sunless spot, they need rich porous soil and heavy watering all through the hot weather as they make massive leaf growth.

They do equally well in acid or alkaline soil, acid conditions flowers are shades of blue and mauve, alkaline red or pink.

The photo above as taken in late autumn, all the different shades coming from the same bush.

Prune in spring in cold areas or autumn if winters are mild. Avoid hard cutting back for this may result in no blooms for a season.

Shared this post on #40 SENIOR SALON 2018

46 comments

    • I would love to see you visit New Zealand. End of October would be a great time when all the gardens are open for bus tours in the Rhododendrons gardens in Taranaki, they are beautiful if you like gardens and the weather is warmer but not too hot, great time to come. Hope you had a peaceful weekend.

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    • Monday morning now, I thought I would stop by and say Hi, yesterday I had a busy day, so replying now. Are you living in the snow? How’s your Christmas shopping going, or are you like me gave that up years ago, just give money to my close family, I think most spent far to much money on Christmas when they cannot afford it. All the best for a happy Christmas.

      Liked by 1 person

      • YAY! I am so happy 🙂 that you stopped by to say hi! It is so cool and weird that you are a day ahead and heading into summer as we head into winter………no snow at the moment, in fact here in Indiana we had an almost 60 degree day and it felt like spring!

        I did some Christmas shopping today but we try to keep things lower key and focus on what is really important. I refuse to go into debt for holidays anymore, we learned our lesson. 🙂
        OK a weird question………I was watching Lord of the Rings this weekend and they filmed that movie in New Zealand……..one of the main reasons I love that movie so much is because it is absolutely beautiful. Do you live anywhere near where any of the movie was filmed?
        May your day bring you smiles! 🙂

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    • When we went there fifteen years ago they were in a mess, I worked very hard to have them as they were by my photos. No I never took anything to our town home as there were very nice gardens there, that only needed to be weeded. Another reason I never brought anything to my town home was it was still our farm. Hope you are having a peaceful weekend.

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      • I understand the hard work that goes into keeping a yard full of flowers, shrubs, and trees looking good. It is a labor of love, is it not ❤ When I moved from my old house in 2011 I brought most of my hosta with me. They're my babies. The current house has a bunch of stuff I had to prune into shape. It's an ongoing battle. It's been a busy weekend but most of the duties have gotten done. Cookie exchange party tomorrow then I can relax. Hope you're enjoying your weekend.

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      • Thanks you the nice reply, you understand, I can still bring plants from the farm, but my town garden is full. Enjoy your Sunday, that sounds good a cookie exchange party, I have not heard of that before, I love cookies.

        Liked by 1 person

      • How it works is you bake 5 dozen, then, depending on how many people show up, you figure out how many cookies each person gets. Everyone leaves with 5 dozen assorted cookies. I’ve been doing this for several years with the same group of ladies. It’s a lot of fun and always hot spiked cider to drink 🙂

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      • Interesting, 5 dozen is quite a lot of cookies it certainly would be fun, no cooking cookies for a while. Thanks for telling me, I like learning about what others are doing around the world.

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      • It took awhile yesterday. I have two large cookie sheets (16 cookies per sheet) and each batch baked 12 minutes. Pecan sandies and they turned out great. Heading out to the party now. Seeya later!

        Liked by 1 person

  1. You have a wonderful garden Elsie. Why do you sell it as the farm garden is just beautiful. Thanks for sharing all the names of these plants. Next time when I get to NZ I will be happily naming the plants I see in your post😃

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    • We did sell it for health reason, we both had cancer and we were half an hours drive to town, it was in the back blocks of Taranaki. At the moment the guy thats buying it is leasing our farm, but not making the payments, so there could be a problem. Peace my friend.

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      • I am sorry to hear of your brush with cancer. I am glad you both are good now. It is awful for that guy not to pay you. Please do not let that chap con you of your property by being a free squatter and then he can “claim” his stake. My sis had the same problem with tenant not paying in Auckland and she had such a hassle to evict the tenant. Take care.

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      • Thanks for your kind words, we are on the winning side because if he doesn’t come up with the money by Nov 1st 2019 he will lose over one hundred thousand dollars, this is all being done through a lawyer, cost money but it’s a necessary these days. Have a wonderful peaceful Christmas, hope your parents are well and looking forward to Christmas.

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  2. Thanks for sharing the beautiful photos! You obviously put a lot of hard work into cultivating your farm gardens…and you know a lot about plants 🙂 I have a small farm garden, mostly vegetables and a few flowers/pots (including a rhododendron, azalea, hosta, mums). Of course, it’s under snow this time of year.

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    • Thanks for commenting about my garden, yes gardens have been my hobby for most of my life, and it can be a great way to keep your body trim, but in a happy way. Do you have a garden where you live?

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