I find it interesting when visitors come to the garden and tell of their experiences through their eyes. Recently we had a visit from the Dunedin Rhododendron Group and one of their members, Susan Yule, wrote the following description of Frensham, which will be shared with her group’s members. Susan has generously allowed me to republish this.
Margaret Long, Frensham Gardens, 139 Old Tai Tapu Road, Kennedy’s Bush, Christchurch
A long driveway lined with lime-trees led us to this impressive and extensive English-style, 3-acre garden nestled below the western slopes of the Canterbury Port Hills. Named after the classic red rose, 'Frensham', (a favourite of Margaret’s father), this 24-year-old country garden has been thoughtfully and artistically laid out with special regard to colour, texture, filtered light and plant selection. Margaret has skilfully created a beautifully integrated series of spaces, each with its own special character. Our hostess was gracious and welcoming, and we were encouraged to learn that this very knowledgeable plantswoman and skilful designer started with very little gardening experience. Now, having created something beautiful with her garden, her passion is to share it with others.
With spring not yet in full bloom at the time of our visit, we could clearly see the framework and structure of the garden. There was a striking contrast between the informality of the perimeter woodland area and the more formal spaces closer to the house. In the woodland, we wandered along winding paths, enjoying the spring bulbs, hellebores, camellias, rhododendrons, hostas, bluebells, maples, a carpet of cream Symphytum tuberosum and other shade-loving plants. Particularly eye-catching here was the lemon magnolia “Elizabeth”. Offsetting the dappled light of the woodland was the formality of the gardens and structures adjacent to the house – the parterre, the clipped Buxus edgings, the lone Robinia pseudoacacia in front of the house surrounded by an orderly grove of Prunus serrula, planted and appreciated more for their rich coppery bark than their flowers, the mound of bay trees, the pergola walk with Trachelospermum jasminoides growing up supporting posts, the beautifully groomed and productive potager, the living willow woven trellis, the brick & tile summer-house, just to mention a few.Altogether a most inspiring and beautiful garden which we felt privileged to visit.
It is encouraging when our garden team reads this and we felt that Susan captured the essence of the garden superbly.
Gladiolus tristis has finished flowering in the garden. With its creamy lemon fragrant flowers flushed with soft green, this plant is gorgeous. In a fairly short time the plant clumps up and the fragrance in the garden is unbeatable. Try walking near it in the evening! Native to South Africa, Gladiolus tristis, with its rush-like stems, prefers an open situation. Often confused with Gladiolus ‘The Bride’, the latter flowers in late November and is white, preferring a similar situation. Our clump is flowering well but I notice that it is getting too much shade from a neighbouring plant, so some trimming back needs to be done.
Rosa ‘Lamarque’ is a Noisette climbing rose with the most luscious nodding white double flowers. The fragrance is fresh and lemony, making it most refreshing on a hot day. A repeat flowerer, this rose has grown against the front wall of the house for at least twenty years. R. ‘Lamarque’ is named after Jean Maximilien Lamarque, who was a French commander during the Napoleonic wars, and later a member of Parliament. Lamarque died in Paris on 1st June 1832 and in that same year, the French rose breeder Marechal produced the rose ‘Lamarque’.
Aesculus indica, the Indian or Horse Chestnut tree, is in flower. Bearing upright cone shaped flowers of pale pink, cream, and a hint of lemon, this tree is always admired. It has black chestnuts.
From Patsy Dart in Akaroa, I have the following request: “Talking of roses I wonder if you know the rose Treasure Trove, a rambler breed from Kiftsgate and Buff Beauty - strong growing (but not as strong as Kiftsgate) with the most beautiful bouquets of buds opening from pink/apricot and fading to cream with the most wonderful scent (single flowering). I wonder if you would know of anywhere I could get a plant as I would love to grow it here in Akaroa?” I made some suggestions to Patsy as to where she might find this rose but so far no luck. Can anyone please help?There have been some new books appearing which I will mention over the next two months. From our neighbours at Otahuna:
We're delighted to announce the publication of our first book, For the Love of a Place: The Stories and Cuisine of Otahuna. Authored by our own Hall Cannon and Miles Refo with Simon Farrell-Green and published by Random House New Zealand in October, the 300-page book is now available for purchase.
For the Love a Place tells several inter-connected stories beginning with the nearly six decades Heaton Rhodes and his staff spent crafting a magnificent home and grand English park. It follows the history of the estate through its years as a Christian Brothers' seminary in the 1960's, commune in the 1970's, private home in the 1980's, and finally its painstaking re-imagining over the past nine years as one of the world’s leading lodges.
While the first half of the book narrates the tales of one of New Zealand's grandest homes and its 30 acres of magnificent historic gardens, the remainder is devoted to the “potager-to-plate” cuisine for which Otahuna has been internationally recognised. More than 70 recipes are arranged across eight evocative chapters showcasing different locations in the house and grounds in which we cater to guests. From breakfast in the Kitchen to a light lunch in the Turret, afternoon tea in the Drawing Room to dinner in the Wine Cellar, each is lavishly illustrated with full-page, colour photographs.To view sample pages or to purchase a copy of For the Love of a Place: The Stories and Cuisine of Otahuna, please visit the
I would like to add that these books can also be purchased at Scorpio Books in Christchurch. There is a promotion with Scorpio in which customers who buy a copy of the book have the option to buy one or two tickets to a scheduled open day on 13 December where the Otahuna house and garden will be open during the afternoon for participants; tea and canapés will also be provided.
Photos of plants in flower in our garden:
Photo 1: Rosa ‘Rhapsody in Blue’. Photo M. Barker.
Photo 2: Iris Nelsonii by our side pond. Photo M. Long.
Photo 3: Flower arrangement with pickings from our garden. Arrangement done by Marilyn McRae, photo M. Long.
Photo 4: One of our red gardens with the Japanese blood grass in the foreground, spires of Berberis ‘Helmond Pillar’ and the tall arching stems of Rosa moyesii ‘Geranium’. As the summer advances clumps of Dahlia ‘Bishop of Llandaff’ will come into flower. Photo: M.Long.
(Click the images to enlarge or view the gallery)
Place a piece of corned beef in a slow cooker. Add one onion, one tablespoon golden syrup, 4 garlic cloves and a dash of cider vinegar. Cook for 8 hours.
When I mentioned to Marilyn McRae who normally writes the recipes for the newsletter, that I had a good recipe for cooking Corned Beef, she said that this was her mother’s way of cooking it. I am in good company.
I am planning to take a ten day tour to Melbourne and into the central part of Victoria, including the Macedon ranges. As many of you know I have led many tours over the years, and I can assure you that the same levels of expertise will ensue. Leading the tour with me will be Stan Smith, a landscape designer and artist who has lived in the region all of his life. Stan has an intimate knowledge of the local flora and fauna and a passion for his corner of the world.
Both public and private gardens will be visited, we will experience some of the local art, and only two accommodation places will be used, which all together provides for a very pleasant and relaxed holiday with like minded people; maximum 20.
I have received a good level of interest n this tour, so if you would like to receive more details re the itinerary and tour price please let me know. Registering your interest does not entail any commitment. You may know of friends or other family members who would enjoy this tour.