- Hillside Garden
- NZ Native Garden
- Vegetable Garden
Linda and Nick have been nurturing and developing their Wilton property for more than 40 years. Despite the challenges of the steep terrain and hard-packed clay soil, they have established a productive and diverse garden that provides food for them and for the abundant population of native birds who visit their garden throughout the year. In Linda's words ..“It’s not that I have a garden as such but an environment that I live in, that sustains and defines me by its nature.”
Both Linda and Nick share a passion for native plants and trees - Linda having worked as a volunteer for many years at the nearby Ōtari-Wilton Bush. Much of their garden is planted in an interesting variety of natives, from creeping ground covers to established trees, and a native ‘green fence’ which Linda maintains along the boundary, to eliminate the need for a hard fence line.
Up a series of steep steps is a flat terraced area, where you’ll find Linda’s productive, organic vegetable garden. The garden is made up of a series of built up, potager-style beds, which are heavily mulched and regularly topped up with rich, homemade compost - Linda is a prolific composter and has her ‘slow-cooked’ method down to a fine art.
While Linda tends the veggie plot, you’re likely to find Nick in one of the two glasshouses that protect his extensive collection of cacti and other succulents (as Nick is quick to point out, ‘cacti are actually succulents’.) A keen collector for almost 70 years, Nick estimates he owns around 500 unique specimens, from as far afield as Ethiopia, Madagascar and the Galapagos Islands.
Until now, Nick’s collection has really only been seen by friends, family and fellow members of the Cactus & Succulent Society of New Zealand, of which is an active member, and past president. We’re thrilled and honoured that this intriguing collection is now open to discover through Secret Gardens!
Growing up on a farm in rural Dannevirke, Linda remembers always being surrounded by keen, female gardeners.
Her mother, aunts and neighbours all grew, preserved and shared the fruit and vegetables that sustained their families throughout the year. So it’s not surprising that gardening has always been a 'given' for Linda, even in the flats that she and Nick lived in before they bought their Wilton home in the early 80s.
Nick is a scientist by trade and a passionate historian in his spare time – in 2022 he received a Queens Service Medal for services to historical research. His interest in cacti and succulents stems from his grandmother, who collected and grew them on shelves in her laundry. From his early attempts at growing cacti in paua shells as a child, Nick now has an incredible collection, and an encyclopaedic knowledge of all succulents - including his pet favourites, euphorbia.
You can do a lot in a small space too, remember that. Grow what you like to eat, watch it, learn from it and you can’t go wrong.
A true secret garden... full of surprises and interesting plants to discover.- Jane, Christchurch
Fantastic garden! Linda and Nick were both extremely knowledgeable, kind, and brought a wonderful enthusiasm to their garden. Incredible to see what can be achieved on a steep site in Wellington central - we really enjoyed ourselves.- Oliver, Wellington
I was gifted the Secret Gardens of Aotearoa book so went into this already loving the kaupapa, to bring people together to share knowledge, enthusiasm, meaning and story. This is absolutely what we experienced. Linda and Nick gave us insight into their decades of work and investment into their garden, we learned about plants that might work for our garden conditions but even more importantly we got the inspiration to keep putting our creative energy into our own spaces knowing that it will pay off over time. 5:5- Anne, Wellington