Autumn Colours in Canterbury

by Anne

Spring in Canterbury is always a special time with flowering plants of all descriptions from cherry blossom to magnificent rhododendrons and azaleas capped off with lilac and white wisteria dripping off verandahs and pergolas. Autumn, however, has its own delights with settled sunny days, red, orange, and golden foliage, and crunchy leaves underfoot. We had clients in Auckland who had missed out on our Spring tour because of Covid restrictions and were keen to join us so it was an easy decision to repeat our tour from 30 April to 5 May 2022.

Once again, we were very pleased to have Christchurch based landscape architect Robert Watson as our expert guide. Robert created or developed almost all the gardens we visited, and we could not have been in better hands to understand the owners’ vision and commitment and appreciate the results they collectively achieved.

On our first day, we set off for Mel and Chris’s West Melton property, Casa Rossa, which started its life as a shingle pit and has now been transformed into a magical estate. Featuring an Italian-inspired home and an outstanding garden, this property is an absolute tribute to its owners who thoroughly deserve its 5-star rating from the New Zealand Gardens Trust. After coffee and pastries, it was a joy to wander through the grounds and discover some new surprises installed by Chris since our last visit. We are quickly learning that a good garden is always evolving. As Rudyard Kipling noted – a good garden is not made by sitting in the shade!

From Casa Rossa, our trusty driver Alan transported us through Tai Tapu and Little River up to the Summit Road overlooking Akaroa harbour on one side and the northern bays on the other. This narrow, winding road provides access to many delightful destinations around Banks Peninsula and Pigeon Bay is definitely one of them.

Our next stop, the luxury Lodge Annandale nestles on the shore. First, we were treated to lunch served al fresco in the sun at a long table, Italian style. The retiring Head Gardener David and Mark, his successor, then toured the property with us, showing us how our expert escort Robert’s design had been transformed into the stunning grounds so admired by visitors to the Lodge.

On our second day, we travelled north through Amberley, the home town of war hero Charles Upham VC and Bar, passing numerous vineyards before making our way through the limestone Waipara Hills to the small settlement of Culverden.