Karen Hurndell wishes she had done more art at school because it's the art in her garden that she likes the most.
She credits inspirational Whanganui teachers Rei Hendry and Peter Donne for the figures she makes to populate her extensive Springvale garden. There they are, sitting on a bench at one edge and strolling with a spade near the house.
She makes their ceramic faces and hands herself, and fills out their clothing.
This year's figures were a "winter boredom project", an alternative to knitting, and Hurndell likes the result.
"I think they're cute and I think they're funny and I think it's good to have a bit of humour in your garden.
"I love my garden because of the art that's in it. It's art and garden," she said.
With 0.8ha to play with, she has created several different gardens across a large flat lawn.
"Each garden is different, which makes it a pleasure to weed. It's not a boring garden."
There's a corner with shady trees, paving and a pergola overhung by an enormous wisteria vine. The Asian garden has stones, paths and a bridge, with "cloud pruned" topiary trees Hurndell shaped herself.
"I started off with little wee trees. I really had no idea what I was doing, but they have just come out so good."
She "scrounges" old objects like a tractor body, a hay cutter and wringer washing machines. Her son Michael uses his "arty flair" and adds metal sculptures to the garden.
Hurndell loves animals and has opened her garden to raise funds for the Animal Rescue Action Network and Precious Paws Paradise. People are allowed to bring their dogs for those rambles.
Her family took on the property 13 years ago, when it was extremely overgrown. She spent two years weeding and clearing, getting the neighbours' sheep in to eat the rampant lawn.
Many trailer loads of weeds were taken away, large rocks revealed and the pergola repaired.
When the property was cleared Hurndell paused. Then the planting began - thousands of plants. It was hard work, "head down, bum up".
"My right arm turned into a rotary hoe," she said.
She spends about 10 hours a week in her garden. She doesn't plan any additions, but may extend the gardens she already has.
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.