What a day of contrasts again. We travelled through a wonderfully fertile valley growing organic fruit and veg, beer and wine and all being offered for sale by the roadside. We supplemented our supplies on the way home. Then we began a climb up through the Abel Tasmen area round precipitous winding roads, made more difficult by numerous road works, resurfacing and repairing land falls. There were rewards though, with several stops for amazing views and some strange rock formations.
When we got to East Takaka, down a gravel road again, and found the 2 gardens we came to see. The first was a garden within a farm, (Matuka Farms Garden) and it was bizarre to keep coming to the edge of the garden and seeing bare pasture beyond, after the lush planting inside.
It was an inspiring garden though, of national repute, and, after 40 years there, Betty and Robin can be really proud of their achievements. We started at the little wattle and daub cottage Robin had recently built and that contained information about the garden, its history and articles in which it appears. There are a variety of areas with different kinds of planting and mood. I especially liked the way leaf forms and colours were combined. It didn’t always have to be rare plants, quite ordinary plants can become extraordinary when placed together with skill and an artistic eye. There were also plenty of quiet spots, designed to sit in, surrounded by sweet scents, of roses, jasmine and honeysuckle. The formal borders, bounded by box hedges, were of statuesque proportions, and nothing flopped, all seemed to support one another. One was mostly pinks and the other more blues and purples. There were nice accent points too, some quite simple ideas, but things that would draw the eye on and keep you moving through the garden. It had a shady rainforest garden too, with lots of ferns and hostas amid the trees.
The second garden suffered by being seen after the farm, but it too had its qualities, with lots of weathered wood being used and some wonderful lilies and roses.
We stopped for lunch and a swim at Pohara, where it took forever to get up to your waist.
Collingwood town (formerly Gibbstown) took the name of Collingwood when it was fashionable to name your town after famous people. Other examples such as Nelson, just down the road, Port Elizabeth, Georgetown, Wellington, and Victoria Falls were all named around that period. There is no evidence here that the Vice Admiral ever sailed these seas. Today the town has about 130 pupils in its school of all ages … yrs 1 to 13…. From the town and surrounding area. So you can see it is not a big place, but in the 19th Century was proposed as the capital for the whole of NZ, if Wikipedia is to be believed. What I found particularly interesting is that the community chose Saint Cuthbert’s as the name for the church. Maybe as a further reference to Cuthbert Collingwood or perhaps by coincidence, we will never know. The local museum has some exhibits relating to the Vice Admiral or as seen on one…. “Baron Collingwood”.