Magical garden - The Perfect Place to Break Your Journey
When you’re heading out of Christchurch south along SH1 don’t pass through Ashburton, turn right at the entrance to town, head along Racecourse Road and when you see a sign for Trott’s Garden turn left.
Drive down an avenue of towering trees and you’ll find yourself in a horticultural wonderland, a place where you can wander at will and explore a series of superb gardens.
Ashburton’s secret garden began its life as one man’s dream but today it is owned by its community. It’s a perfect place to park your motorhome or caravan, to stretch your legs and enjoy a break from the road in a tranquil setting that attracts visitors from around the world. Trott’s Garden began life as a barren four hectare paddock, a run-down chook house, a stable and a rambling and much-neglected house.
Forty years later it is recognised as a Garden of International Significance, thanks to its developer Alan Trott. His dream was to create a garden that would become a place people would visit and enjoy, a place that would inspire others to create something special on their own land. Late last year Alan decided to retire, but in selling his priority was for new owners who would allow the gardens to continue as a place people could visit and enjoy.
To ensure the property remained part of the Ashburton community the Trott’s Garden Charitable Trust was formed. It bought the property, rallied a team of volunteers and formed a management committee to maintain and develop the gardens – to continue Alan’s dream. Since the first spade of soil was turned in the garden in 1984, the Trott family has planted a large area now known as the woodland garden, which is home to 650 rhododendrons.
The display of colour from early September until autumn is truly stunning as rhododendron bloom amongst stately trees. Some 50 species of magnolia, 70 different kinds of maples and 40 different varieties of the dogwood family give some idea of the scale of this area, which is under-planted with hundreds of rhododendrons and azaleas. Nearby is a bog garden with a stream that flows into a pond edged with many fine water plants, lilies and iris. The pond, from the near side, is free of plantings, and so reflects a perfect image of the sky and garden beyond.
The many highlights of the gardens include the perennial borders running some 110 metres in length. Enclosed by tightly trimmed macrocarpa hedges, the borders contain only perennial plants, a rarity in the Southern Hemisphere, and unlike many perennial borders they contain no natives or roses. A special area of the garden is the red border. This was developed in 2005 and over the six metre deep, 60-metre long border there are hundreds of plants that are either red in foliage or flower.
Alan began this garden by writing down the names of as many red leaved and red flowered plants as he could find. There were hundreds and today the border showcases red dahlias trialled for renowned New Zealand dahlia breeder Keith Hammett. Other highlights of Trott’s Garden include sweeping lawns and a look-out tower which offers wonderful views of the bog and water garden and the rare ‘knot’ garden that fronts the garden’s chapel, home to many weddings.
The New Zealand Gardens Trust awarded Trott’s Garden six stars (its highest category) and designated it as a NZ Garden of International Significance, as it is considered to be outstanding for its horticultural value. Alan himself was awarded a Queen’s Service Medal in 2017 for his services to horticulture. Trott’s Garden is open Monday – Friday 10am – 2pm; and on Saturday and Sunday – by appointment only. For more information, check out www.trotts.co.nz
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