An early Spring walk around Ohinetahi with iconic Canterbury architect, Sir Miles Warren gave us a sneak preview of Winter projects completed, and the chance to hear about what’s in store for Summer.

The surplus Charteris Bay sandstone from the original homestead has been an inspiration to Sir Miles in the development of the Garden and in particular the Park, for terracing and setting the scene for even more fabulous art installations.

Ohinetahi Revisited Garden TourWe enjoyed magnificent views of Ohinetahi and its stunning sea backdrop; both the house and garden were impressive, with flowering camellias, rhododendrons and budding trees full of Spring promise. Of note was the Winter maintenance of pruning. Hedges and topiary were immaculate, kept razor sharp and straight by builder/gardener, Ross Brooker.

The herbaceous border has been refreshed and simplified, but is still dramatic with mass plantings. In this generous garden planting is often in large groups, for example Begenia cordifolia, with large leaves and mauve pink flowers. When the flowers are finished the leaf makes a statement for the rest of the season – right plant, right place.

There is so much to see and learn in this garden. Gardener, Mark Chandler was completing a retaining wall and steps down into the lower valley where a sculpture by Auckland artist Virginia King can be viewed. Another feature was a chequerboard pattern of natives (corokia and coprosma varieties), shaped to give a carpet effect.

Now to the Park! After six years it is taking on a ‘contemporary’ feel with large swathes of hardy New Zealand native shrubs including Olearia paniculata, Muhlenbeckia astonii, Chinachloa flavescens, Carex buchananii and other grasses. The secret with the use of natives in this situation is to shape and trim. The terracing has created an amphitheatre, setting the scene for even more spectacular artworks.

At the end of the Park a dynamic new Neil Dawson (‘Chalice’, ‘Ferns’, Civic Square Wellington) artwork is about to be installed. This joins another new and bold installation with Timaru bluestone by Doug Neil. The sculptures are a true passion of Sir Miles and his excitement over the new embellishments are evident.

At the conclusion of the visit we came across a beautiful wall inscription in Latin, translated as,  “those who plant a garden plant happiness”.

While Sir Miles claims “there is still so much yet to do”, it is evident this gracious garden brings its founder (and surely all who visit) much happiness indeed.

Sir Miles is pleased to welcome CHS Members to Ohinetahi this year on Tuesday 25 November. This exclusive day trip includes a tour of the house and garden, morning tea and a private bus.

Bookings are open now $65 per person