The lush garden of Bay of Plenty “feeds our souls”

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Ask Lynette Lochhead to sum up her garden in one sentence and she will say, “It feeds our souls”. However, there was not much to say when Lynette and her husband Peter moved to their Te Puna estate near Tauranga four decades ago as newlyweds – it was essentially a pen. sheep. The house they built then grew with their family, as did the garden they created.

Lynette and Peter Lochhead call this part of their Te Puna property the “romantic garden” with its great drifts of Michelia “Fairy Cream” and hydrangea “Limelight” in bloom;  Peter created the winding path from old cobblestones.

Amanda Aitken / NZ Home & Garden

Lynette and Peter Lochhead call this part of their Te Puna property the “romantic garden” with its great drifts of Michelia “Fairy Cream” and hydrangea “Limelight” in bloom; Peter created the winding path from old cobblestones.

“The garden was built 41 years ago and interest has not waned. He went through many transformations during this time. You could say that it has transformed organically into a well-established and rewarding garden, ”explains Lynette.

“At first we would get trailers of plants from my dad’s nursery – then from the Burtons Garden Center in Hamilton – without thinking too much about placement. And we had a lot of plants in catalogs, which was my saving grace at home with preschoolers.

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When it started, the garden at this 4 hectare property was cottage-themed, full of David Austin roses (only one rose left today), delphiniums, foxgloves, grandma’s hats, baby’s breath and lavender.

Over time, the Lochheads realized that they preferred a garden that required less work, and also a garden that looked great all year round. The emphasis was therefore on textured and structural plants, and drifts of the same species.

Peter and Lynette relax on the newly built bridge;  the green velvet cushions were chosen to complement the garden.

Amanda Aitken / NZ Home & Garden

Peter and Lynette relax on the newly built bridge; the green velvet cushions were chosen to complement the garden.

“I wanted a garden that would last nine to ten months a year. Now we have it and it’s a total joy, ”says Lynette. She always likes to imagine interesting plant combinations and appreciates the multi-layered look of the garden as the plants have grown over the years.

She has created some interesting views of the garden from the house, such as Peter’s incredibly productive vegetable patch which can be seen from the back of the house, and the white garden seen from the master bedroom. This “romantic” patch features a wedding of Michelia ‘Fairy Cream’, lamb’s ears, gaura, hellebores, daphne and Hydrangea ‘Spotlight’.

Lochhead garden, NZ House & Garden Jan 2022 Do not use until post December 20, 2021

Amanda Aitken / Stuff

Lochhead garden, NZ House & Garden Jan 2022 Do not use until post December 20, 2021

Aesthetic beauty is an integral part of Lynette and Peter’s life. He is an architectural designer while Lynette owns the interior design company Design on James. His studio is on the property … accessible down the garden path and through the pool enclosure.

It’s a short walk that packs a big visual punch. While the gardens around the house are informal with winding paths, the pool and studio are more structured. The griselinia hedges contribute a linear element and the focal points include royal palms and a native area with ferns and 11 kōwhai which were recently planted to attract tūī.

A gunnera on the lawn leading to the studio is often commented on, as are the two “quite amazing and huge” grass trees (Xanthorrhoea australis) next to the swimming pool.

“Seeing the light dancing behind their beautiful arrows is an incredible sight,” says Lynette, who enjoys watching the light play in her garden. “With that overlay comes a speckled light that creates a lot of variable light that dances around. It’s a really beautiful effect.

Ligularia, mondo grasses, astelia and weeping maples thrive in this region;  the path leads from the path to the front garden.

Amanda Aitken / NZ Home & Garden

Ligularia, mondo grasses, astelia and weeping maples thrive in this region; the path leads from the path to the front garden.

The visual impact of the massive groupings of plants also gives Lynette great pleasure. Forest pansies, with their leaves resembling hearts, have been a longtime favorite – she now has a group of five. Strong shapes resonate in the garden – three Podocarpus henkelii at the entrance to the workshop and another group under the golden totara near the house, and a dozen large topiary pyramids (Buxus microphylla) at the top of the aisle.

Topiaries were very easy to find, from his brother Graeme Burton who, following in their father’s footsteps, owns Rukuhia Homestead Landscaping, a nursery near Hamilton specializing in shaped plants.

Bamboo palms (Chamaedorea costaricana) grow at the back of the secret garden as an ornamental grape cascades from above and topiaries Buxus microphylla from Lynette's green-fingered brother Graeme Burton are in the pots.

Amanda Aitken / NZ Home & Garden

Bamboo palms (Chamaedorea costaricana) grow at the back of the secret garden as an ornamental grape cascades from above and topiaries Buxus microphylla from Lynette’s green-fingered brother Graeme Burton are in the pots.

“Graeme has been a wonderful sounding board when a change is needed to simplify areas or to add visual interest with the topiary,” says Lynette. Help also comes from Louise Job who regularly maintains and prunes the garden.

There is a deliberately limited color palette in the garden these days. The maple trees and the pansies of the forest give touches of burgundy and the romantic garden has its white flowers.

The Lochhead property in all its glory with the enormous speckled elm and golden totara to the right;  beyond the garden is a kiwi orchard - the couple grow kiwis and avocados for commercial purposes;  Lynette's studio is invisible, on the other side of the hedge at the bottom of the photograph.

Amanda Aitken / NZ Home & Garden

The Lochhead property in all its glory with the enormous speckled elm and golden totara to the right; beyond the garden is a kiwi orchard – the couple grow kiwis and avocados for commercial purposes; Lynette’s studio is invisible, on the other side of the hedge at the bottom of the photograph.

A recent addition is the large covered patio, a quaint entertainment area for friends and family, including grandchildren.

“When I see the way our grandchildren play in the garden, it reminds me of the way we used to play. The magic… the sound of wind chimes, the statue to climb on, the games of hide and seek, ”explains Lynette. There’s even a secret garden with windows cut out of lattice walls – a great place to fuel make-believe play.

Lynette remembers that as a child she avoided all gardening chores – as the daughter of a nursery owner there were a lot of them. It wasn’t until years later, faced with a property without a garden, that Lynette realized how important plants were to her.

“Life without a garden is a bit soulless.”

The entrance to the Lochheads property is flanked by grass-like Lomandra 'Little Con' and clipped boxwood (Buxus semperverins 'Fastigiata').

Amanda Aitken / NZ Home & Garden

The entrance to the Lochheads property is flanked by grass-like Lomandra ‘Little Con’ and clipped boxwood (Buxus semperverins ‘Fastigiata’).

Q&A with Lynette Lochhead

A gardening tip to share: You don’t need to dwell on a particular style. I love so many things, so don’t follow too many rules. You can get away with this if your garden doesn’t include too many colors – limiting the color avoids chaos.

Favorite plants: After the forest thoughts, the very green Philodendron ‘Xanadu’, with its textured leaves with jagged edges, is my next favorite. I like the fact that it is structural, dense and does not require a lot of maintenance.

The efforts of Peter’s garden: He has an incredibly prolific vegetable garden and a small greenhouse where he grows plants from seeds. It also tackles things like hard landscaping, lawns, and spreading compost and bark.

I like to relax: In the pool area between the showroom and the house, it is an “I don’t work and I am not at home” area where one has the impression of having gone to a resort.

A recent delight: The addition of the moss green velvet fabric covering the cushions of the outdoor sofa.

Then we will: If necessary, remove the line of camellias along the road. They are likely to be replaced by a fence and maple trees. The expanses of blue agapanthus in this region can also be farewell.

Is your garden open to the public: Yes, during the Bay of Plenty Garden & Art Festival each year in November.

The entrance to Lynette's studio from where she runs her company Design on James.

Amanda Aitken / NZ Home & Garden

The entrance to Lynette’s studio from where she runs her company Design on James.


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