Today in the GPOD we’re taking a trip to New Zealand.
My name is Awhina Kingi, and I am an obsessive gardener.
I moved to a family-owned property in a semi-rural location up north in October 2016. Generations of my maternal side of the family were raised in the house; the last to live here were my grandfather and his elder sister, my great aunt, who was the matriarch of the whanau (Maori for “extended family”) and a dedicated gardener. Both passed away prior to my arriving and were laid to rest in the whanau urupa (family cemetery) on the property.
My granddad was a veggie gardener with a little 10-foot by 10-foot plot to the rear of property near the orchard, and my aunt was a prizewinning flower gardener with a humongous garden full of blooms ranging from the easy to get to the rare, and even a small native forest she planted herself.
When I arrived here, everything was dead or dying after a severe drought, and no one had lived here for two years while the house was vacant and repairs were being undertaken to make it safe. In fact, the only things thriving were the wild ginger and tobacco, privet, buttercup, and kikuyu (a grass, Pennisetum clandestinum), which was so long it actually covered trees. But underneath it all were the backbones of a very well planted garden.
I had NO idea about gardening. In fact, my last attempt at gardening had been growing radishes as a ten-year-old! I was determined to learn, though, as I hated seeing their pride and joy disappear. Slowly it became less of a duty I was doing in my aunt’s memory and more of a passion I was indulging in for myself.
I now have a few hundred dahlias and succulents, plus frangipani (Plumeria) grown from seed as well as many tropical plants, mostly through trading with friends and other growers, or earned by selling cuttings and seedlings. It has been a fascinating and wonderful journey. There is a long way to go, but there is massive progress on both the garden and my soul. The saying “While I work on my garden, my garden works on me” has never been truer.
The garden in 2016 when Awhina arrived.
More of the garden before. Some plants have survived, but it is clearly in need of a lot of love.
Jump forward to 2018, and the garden has been reborn!
Lush flowering shrubs frame the neatly mown grass.
A dahlia bloom, a favorite plant of gardeners everywhere.
A diversity of plants is now flowering in the borders.
Gloriosa lily (Gloriosa superba, Zones 8–10 or as a tender bulb) is not really a lily at all, but it grows these incredible flowers on a scrambling, vining stem.
A huge dahlia plant towers over other flowers.
Have a garden you’d like to share?
Have photos to share? We’d love to see your garden, a particular collection of plants you love, or a wonderful garden you had the chance to visit!
To submit, send 5-10 photos to GPOD@finegardening.com along with some information about the plants in the pictures and where you took the photos. We’d love to hear where you are located, how long you’ve been gardening, successes you are proud of, failures you learned from, hopes for the future, favorite plants, or funny stories from your garden.
If you want to send photos in separate emails to the GPOD email box that is just fine.
You don’t have to be a professional garden photographer – check out our garden photography tips!
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