When you’ve lived in colder climates for most of your lives, it’s exciting to be able to just walk out into your garden and pick a lemon or a frangipani blossom. Russell being frost-free means all sorts of wonderful sub-tropicals will flourish here, even in winter: citrus in the front lawn, orchids under the kitchen window, gardenia at the back door, frangipani at the top of the garden path, jasmine so widespread it’s considered a weed.
The bones of the old English cottage garden are clearly visible against the more sculptural profiles of New Zealand natives like ti kouka (the cabbage tree), flaxes, tree ferns and large flowering grasses. A good garden should delight the nose as much as the eye and because of our benign climate we have been able to grow almost every sweet smelling plant you can think of: stephanotis, philadelphus, heliotrope, myrtle, lavender, star jasmine and cestrum nocturnum, or queen of the night, which takes care that evenings can be as fragrant as the day.
The garden also provides all of the produce for the jams we serve at breakfast: plum, grapefuit, orange, lime and one you may not have heard of, feijoa.
A small kitchen garden also helps supply the breakfast table: cherry tomatoes (which pop up courtesy of last year’s compost), lettuce, spinach, basil for our pesto as well as all of the usual herbs: parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme. We also have marjoram that seems permanently smothered with bees for most of the summer.