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Old-world beauty

22 May 2024
Little Jury Garden
A salvaged window complete with a window box of bright dianthus, blue salvia, pink pansies and a variegated fuchsia.

A Taranaki Fringe Garden Festival favourite elegantly combines shade, edibles and outdoor seating areas.
Words & photos Veronica Armstrong

Olde Thyme, aka the little Jury garden, is a great example of what can be done if one has enthusiasm, creativity and flair. This quarter-acre suburban garden in Lepperton, Taranaki, belongs to Keryn (née Jury) and Ian Stothard. From the street you wouldn’t guess that behind the crisp, white fence lies a beautiful garden with interesting Victorian-style plantings, a vegetable garden and fruit trees, all enhanced with quirky upcycled features which add to the sense of fun.
When Keryn bought the property 14 years ago it was choked with rubbish of all descriptions, kikuyu grass was rampant and the only living things, apart from a few trees, were rats and wasps! Undaunted, she set to work clearing everything, retaining only four trees and planting a lawn.

Natural evolution
Then Keryn got to work to weave her garden magic. Everything had to “be edible, beautiful or smell nice”. She wanted fruit trees, a vegetable garden, flowers, fragrance and somewhere for the birds. With no set plan in mind, the garden evolved naturally over time. She started planting fruit trees, then began to plant around and beneath them, using her favourite plants.
Keryn comes from the Jury family, who are well known for breeding magnolias , camellias and michelias. She says gardening is in the genes and that she’s been influenced by her family’s gardens. She loves flowers, old-fashioned plantings and beautiful objects, and these are all evident in her lovely garden.
Entering the garden along the side of the house, the first plant that caught my attention was the scented, white-flowered rhododendron ‘Fragrantissimum’, one of several rhododendrons in the garden.
There are no straight lines, only gentle grassed curves weaving and flowing through the different areas, some devoted to seating, including the outdoor pizza oven area, which is a favourite family spot.

Plant portfolio
Keryn grows a wide range of fruit trees and plants, including peach, apple, crab apple, plum, apricot, pear, fig, loquat, orange, mandarin, lemon, lime, mulberry and passion fruit, which provide an abundance of produce, while magnolias, maples, toon trees and the ornamental Taiwan cherry ‘Felix Jury’ provide colour
and interest throughout the year.
Beneath the trees’ shady canopies, rhododendrons, michelias and perennials form dense plantings. Hostas thrive in the shade and are used as edging along pathways. Box hedging defines borders and beds beneath the fruit trees, and ground covers such as lamium and ajuga are used for easy maintenance. Cottage garden favourites abound, including abutilons, daisies, foxgloves and salvias, while ferns are planted in deeper shade.
A pergola is festooned with wisteria and roses ‘Hayley Westenra’ and ‘Papa Meilland’. Keryn also grows the pink David Austin ‘Mary Rose’, but there are not many roses in the garden as it is quite shady.
Geranium maderense, which originates from Madeira, is dotted throughout the garden. Its large, purple flowers make a stunning show for around two months. Last year Keryn added a white-flowering G. maderense to the garden too.

Edible elegance
There is also a prolific vegetable garden in raised beds alongside a Victorian-style glasshouse that is used for potting up plants and growing tomato, artichoke, capsicum, eggplant, chilli, zucchini and cucumber seedlings. In the raised planters, Keryn grows silver beet, spinach, carrots, parsnip, garlic and herbs.
A ‘wheelbarrow’, created from an old wine barrel using oars for handles and a beautiful old, steel wheel, has strawberries and rhubarb growing in it. To increase the growing space, many pots are planted up with figs, cranberries, orangeberries, blueberries, grapes and finger limes. Keryn has been trialling growing potatoes in bags and buckets, with mixed results, but is determined to master this, as she and Ian enjoy fresh, homegrown food.

Vintage touches
There are creative elements everywhere, giving this garden real character and quirkiness. A mantelpiece, complete with silver mirror and perfume bottle, is festooned with the old-fashioned purple rose ‘Anaïs Ségalas’. A salvaged stained-glass window has a window box planted up with blue salvia, variegated fuchsias and pink dianthus. A white door in the outdoor dining area has grow bags attached, filled with bright red impatiens. Other interesting features include a fireplace with lilies growing in the grate, a wind chime and a bird cage. A traditional Japanese ‘deer scarer’, which is essentially a water fountain with a bamboo tipping piece that flows into an enamel pot, is much loved by the Stothards’ granddaughters. There’s also a woodshed that looks like a little cottage and a hot house which was built using sash windows from an old villa. Keryn admits that Ian is handy at building things. At night the garden is lit up by solar-powered lamps and spotlights.

Growing inspiration
Keryn admits that not everything she planted has thrived. Rosemary hedges were unsuccessful, so she replaced them as she tends to grow what does well – a good tip for all gardeners. When she’s not gardening, Keryn likes to relax on her favourite Cape Cod chairs and listen to the birdsong.
The garden has been part of the Taranaki Fringe Garden Festival for the past four years and I can highly recommend it as a great example of what magic can be achieved on a quarter-acre section if one has imagination and vision.

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