The garden at historic Terrace Station near Hororata has surprises at every turn – a view through a clipped hedge, boughs of great trees, delicate greenery and white flowers.
Terrace Station was the home of Sir John Hall, runholder, politician and reformer, and his wife Rose, and his descendants live there still.
The earliest part of the homestead was built in the 1850s, and the garden began to take shape in the 1860s.
Sir John loved trees – evident even from the entrance to the farm – and the garden features a woodland walkway with magnificent trees – some 150 years old – such as sequoias and oaks, and maples, linden limes, holm oak and cedars.
It is a place of refuge and peace.
The Terrace Station Charitable Trust was set up in 2002 to preserve and maintain the homestead and buildings for the public.
Four open days are held a year ($5 an adult, children free and welcome, but no dogs) with the first on Sunday August 11.
Kate Foster, the great granddaughter or Sir John, said trees were very important to him, and on open days the gate was opened to a 15ha woodland under-planted with wild flowers.
Each open day has a new name to represent the changes in the expansive garden – August is snowdrop, September violets and primroses, October bluebells and November granny bonnets, roses and summer flowers.
“This garden is a haven for birds and insects and butterflies. We have masses of bees.”
It features a massive hornbeam, Portugese laurel, sycamores, horse chestnuts and elms, celery pine, medlar, ginkgo and a judas tree.
The property, as well as the homestead, has many old buildings with a rich history: the summer house (known at The Hutch), a shepherd’s stinky, a swagger’s hut, where men-of-the-road camped as they toured the countryside looking for work and a meal.
The open days also feature a quiz table where visitors are asked to try to identify 19th century domestic items.
Children are given printed suggestions for self-guided activities and visitors are encouraged to bring a picnic to enjoy on the lawns around the historic home.
Woodland plants are also for sale.
A group of volunteers led by Trish Hall help Kate (who puts in 20 hours a week during summer) to keep the garden in shape and with the open days.
The open days run from 11am to 3pm and are on Sunday August 11, September 8, October 6 and November 3.