Anna O'Leary's garden at Fairfield Farm in the Whangaehu Valley has twice extended out into paddocks and is her "happy place".
Her sisters-in-law entered it in the Whanganui's Most Beautiful Garden Competition because they thought more people should see its 700 roses, sweeping lawn and many smaller "rooms".
It started when O'Leary and her husband Shaun moved to the house 23 years ago. It's lush dairy farming country, with heavy clay soil and a gentle slope. The addition of topsoil and sand made it "diggable". Thousands of plants and stony paths were added.
Her five sons and staff on the dairy farm have all contributed, providing old farm machinery and rocks. Shaun O'Leary only placed three restrictions on his wife.
"I'm not allowed to put trees around so you can't see out, or have a water feature, and if I can't look after it the fence comes back in," she said.
Last time she asked him whether she could shift a fence, he forgot to ask how far. The result is a large flat green space where her son had an "awesome" 21st birthday, with a marquee and band.
The O'Leary brothers are keen on racing and had Melbourne Cup winner Who Shot Thebarman. When Shaun O'Leary is away for a week at the thoroughbred sales in Karaka, Anna O'Leary gets to work.
"I have tradesmen coming up the drive as he is going down."
She likes to add sculpture and interest to her gardens. The garden is studded with extra objects - sculpture, two bicycles, a piano clad in corrugated iron, sets of pencils and figures made from poles.
The Three Wise Monkeys that stand near the driveway were bought after a win by the famous racehorse.
"That was my little purchase when he did well."
O'Leary wanted a garden of many rooms, and some of them have themes. Hydrangea Raspberry crush is a favourite plant. Most of her roses are from nearby Matthews Nursery, she grows her own cuttings and she loves doing the deadheading.
The farm's digger driver has added rocks that he has found while doing earthworks.
"They all think about me when they're out in the hills doing bits and pieces."
Whangaehu Garage owner Larry Collard put together a metal sculpture O'Leary designed, Harvey Dillon made a "water man" piece and Jenny Dillon comes to work in the garden every Monday.
"She has such a wealth of knowledge and she's fun to be in the garden with."
Anna mows the lawns herself, and uses that time to scan the garden. Mowing, uninterrupted, is her happy place. With a family of five outdoor boys she's been able to spend lots of time in her garden
"I had the privilege of being outside all day, and plotting my next move."
She likes to wander out in her dressing gown first thing in the morning, sit on a patio and look across her garden to cows grazing in the paddock beyond.
Her mother and grandmother were both gardeners, and as an only child she learned to amuse herself outdoors. She spends two or three hours in the garden every day.
Also in this series:
Whanganui's Most Beautiful Garden finalist: Karen Hurndell's garden is also art
Whanganui's Most Beautiful Garden finalist: Phil Thomsen's garden built from the ground up
Whanganui's Most Beautiful Garden finalist: Cherry Novis' pride and joy
Whanganui's Most Beautiful Garden finalist: Christine Walker's garden the result of years of hard work
Whanganui's Most Beautiful Garden finalist: Penny Daddy's Japanese-themed garden hosts weddings
• Six finalists in the Whanganui's Most Beautiful Garden competition will be featured in the Chronicle between January 4 and 9. Pick up a copy of the paper to vote for your favourite.