JARS v56n2 - Tikitere: A Choice New Zealand Garden

Tikitere: A Choice New Zealand Garden
Barbara Campbell
El Cerrito, California

When one goes to New Zealand a must on one's list of things to see should be the Tikitere Nursery in Rotorua run by Bill Robinson and Ann Ford.

When Bill bought the land it was rather barren, but it did have a "river running through it" - well, really a small but enthusiastic stream. Bill controlled the stream by lining it with rocks and then built a bridge using huge boulders. He planted trees for windbreak hedges, which have now grown to be three or four "stories" high. They are trimmed yearly so that they are only about 2 feet (0.6 m) wide. These trees surround the outer edge of most of the property, making a dramatic backdrop to the plantings. A large parking lot accommodates all the buses that come bringing tours. This nursery has become a favorite for garden clubs to visit.

The small stream was controlled by
lining it with rocks. Trees form a windbreak hedge.
The small stream was controlled by lining it with rocks.
Photo by Barbara Campbell
Trees form a windbreak hedge.
Photo by Barbara Campbell
The hostas grow to magnificent
The hostas grow to magnificent clumps.
Photo by Barbara Campbell

Bill's original plan was to plant rhododendrons. He strived to acquire every new successful rhododendron hybrid. Then irises were added and then day lilies and now hostas. It is unknown how many different hostas this man has found. They seem to love the location and really thrive, growing to magnificent clumps. Rhododendrons line the stream as does a wonderful planting of red maples. Hostas cover low banks nearby. To think that all this has been accomplished in just twelve years is amazing.

Last year Ann won a best-in-show blue ribbon for her display at the Ellerslie show in Auckland. This really put Tikitere on the map, as the Ellerslie show is the biggest garden show in New Zealand and a major tourist attraction.

New Zealand is a small country but full of very dedicated gardeners. The climate and terrain allow for a wide variety of plant cultivation, with rhododendrons growing happily in English cottage gardens, mixed with native tree ferns or used as accents in hard-edge modern designs.

Rotorua is hosting the New Zealand Rhododendron conference in the year 2003 so if you don't make the convention in Christchurch in 2002 be sure to sign up for Rotorua in 2003. But anytime you visit New Zealand, do visit Tikitere. You will be amazed!

Barbara Campbell is a member of the California Chapter.