Manukau Courier : January 21st 2010
7 MANUKAU COURIER, JANUARY 21, 2011 NEWS Passionate gardener: Ayrlies founder Beverley McConnell was awarded the Queen's Service Medal for services to horticulture. Photos: FIONA GOODALL Ayrlies a utopia for garden fans Daily wonder: Head gardener and custodian Morag Hubbard with her dog Shadow at her front gate that opens into Ayrlies. Cypress pond: Beverley McConnell and Morag Hubbard are just visible to the left of the Summerhouse. Cascades: A lush stream drains into Ollies Pond. Fiery flower: One of the garden's many flowering plants. By MATT BOWEN ' It's about working all the plants in together with their textures and their forms, the colours and the shapes. I think that's what gives Ayrlies that extra element. ' Morag Hubbard head gardener Leaving Ayrlies isn't easy. Head gardener Morag Hubbard and I parted ways by Ollies Pond after wandering through the inter- nationally renowned country gar- den for an hour. My host for the morning went her way and, reluctantly, I went mine -- up the empty timber steps around a quiet pool to the lychgate. The shady wooden entrance is the first impression for hundreds of people who visit the Whitford gar- den each year. Most arrive from England, the United States and Australia. Overseas enthusiasts are often excited and completely in awe when they walk in, Morag says. Earlier, near blooming pink and white roses, I asked how she rated it. Definitely,'' she said, it's the best garden in New Zealand''. Morag also called it absolute art- istry''. It's about working all the plants in together with their textures and their forms, the colours and the shapes. I think that's what gives Ayrlies that extra element. The scope of plants and combinations of how they've been put together, technically, it's just an art. It's like a painting.'' In 1964 the painting'' was a tree- less farmhouse. Beverley McConnell and her late husband Malcolm were the artists who gradually transformed the pas- ture into 6.5 hectares of exotic and native trees, shrubs, ferns and flowers. The latest addition is 12 hectares of valley wetlands. Mrs McConnell believes such places are important. They offer a reflective oasis'' from the modern technology of our lives. They are restoration for the soul, she says. Perhaps that's why I struggled to leave. To steal a phrase from BBC pres- enter Monty Don, who visited in 2008, I also left elated by the scale and vision and dreamlike intensity of colour and size''. Ayrlies is open year-round by appointment only. Entry is $15 per person. See www.ayrlies.co.nz for details.
January 20th 2011
January 25th 2011