Cherylene Lovell admits she's a fussy gardener.

Take a walk with Cherylene around her rural garden - located on 4.5ha of land between Whanganui and Fordell - and all she sees are the imperfections.

"I like things to be perfect," she said, noting that she has to re-bark this path and dead-head this plant.

Yet to the visitor, the garden - focused around a formal lawn bordered with trees and roses - is a place of beauty and tranquillity.


The grand old homestead was moved to the property from Liffiton St in 1990, and Cherylene moved in 17 years ago. She shares the house with her husband, Mike, and her three teacup Maltese dogs - Suki, Dinky Diva and Chyinna Doll.

Two large, perfectly clipped box hedges lead visitors along the path to the front door, and give the house a formal appearance.

The back of the house leads on to a small deck and a paved area with outdoor furniture, shaded by a weeping elm tree.

Beyond this is the formal lawn with beautifully landscaped flower beds containing cosmos, hellebore, foxgloves, fuchsia, cinerarias, a fernery, a palm grove, small trees, garden art and dozens and dozens of roses, all of which Cherylene knows by name.

There are also more than 100 dahlias.

"I'm a dahlia freak," Cherylene said.

There was an established garden on the property when the Lovells moved in, but Cherylene has added to it. Her husband isn't interested in the garden, although he helps with the heavy lifting.

The garden has been used as the backdrop for wedding photos, as well as neighbourhood gatherings and parties.

She has tried to establish a vegetable garden without much luck.

"The rabbits and the birds get into it and destroy everything, so I've given up."

Cherylene comes from a family of gardeners, particularly her mother. "Once I had my own property, I started taking pride in it and wanted the gardens to look the best they can," she said.

"I spend a lot of time in the garden. I love it. There's always something to do."