Love affair with Flint Rd garden

By Erika Venter

Two years ago Michael and Jane Burroughs would not have known the name of one rhododendron from another, but with their garden, The Ortons, this year being a new addition to the Taranaki Fringe Garden Festival, it is a different story.

Strolling about the one-acre property, they not only relate the names of the plants they have added, and those they have inherited, but also recount the plants' likes and dislikes and the tale behind a particular bed or plant.

"What amazes me is that we keep picking it up. Whenever we visit other gardens, we come away with more knowledge," says Jane.

They have replanted borders where blight-infected box hedging used to be, added new beds filled with architectural plants to provide interest in the winter garden, and included little nooks and crannies and surprises to add intrigue for people wanting to nosy around.

"It has been a lot of hard work, still is, but it is our main interest now and we do enjoy it. It is our mental and our physical exercise," says Michael.

Their son, Nick, who moved to Taranaki in 2009 and now lives in Midhirst with his wife, Carol, and their eight children, suggested they also move down here.

They say on seeing the property on Flint Rd in Stratford in 2010 they knew instantly that it is going to be their new home.

Having moved from Kerikeri in Northland, they relish the change in seasons here. Having emigrated from the UK to New Zealand in 1968, they say the Taranaki climate provides them with their "little piece of England".

Their garden is described in the Fringe Festival brochure as an eclectic mix of mature trees, shrubs, perennials and annuals.

"Everything is starting to come out, bursting forth. It is a pleasure to see," says Jane.

The name The Ortons stems from the similarly named group of villages in England where they came from and in Saxon means "farm on the fringe". "We needed a name for the festival and thought it quite fitting," says Jane.

They listed the garden after being approached by friends involved with the festival.

"More gardens were needed in Stratford to attract more people to this area. We thought, 'Why not?'," says Michael.

Their garden is listed in the Fringe Festival brochure, but due to a printing error it is not shown on the map in the brochure. The garden will be signposted.

The festival runs October 26-November 4. There are a number of local listings, including Mosen's Garden and Fern Brooke on Pembroke Rd, and the Walker garden on Lysander St, as well as several gardens in the Eltham and Inglewood areas. Pick up a brochure at your local information centre.

- Stratford Press

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