Welcome to Secret Gardens

Tēnā koe,

Thanks for visiting the Secret Gardens website. I hope that this is the beginning of a journey of discovery for you – and that you might even take your whanau and friends along for the ride.

As many gardeners will tell you, my own gardening journey has been full of steep learning curves, revelations, failures, breakthroughs, and gardening heroes – whose shared wisdom contributes to my ongoing accumulation of skills and knowledge. It has also been defined by where I’ve lived and stages of my life – from raising three children with little time to garden, to growing herbs and tomatoes in pots on a central city balcony, and now tending a one acre hillside property on Banks Peninsula.

On visits to friends or relations as a child, my siblings and I would be required to sit for a polite five minutes before being sent off to play in the garden. These gardens that made such an impression on me were likely modest in reality, but to my young mind they were vast and enchanting worlds of insects, birds, smells, textures .. and if you were lucky, tastes.

Our orchard, Banks Peninsula.
Exploring Sunday Reed's garden Heide, Melbourne.

The first garden of my own was certainly a learning curve – just putting things in the ground, hoping they’d grow. Then, during a trip to Melbourne, I discovered Sunday Reed’s garden at Heide. An art collector and patron, Sunday broke away from her high society upbringing and, over decades, transformed a neglected 16 acre dairy farm on the banks of the Yarra River into a parkland, kitchen garden and sculpture park.

Thirty years, and various gardens later, my partner and I purchased our Corsair Bay property. Our approach is inspired by Sunday and informed by the land. We have planted a permaculture orchard, a productive kitchen garden, I have acquired a dahlia obsession, and existing natives on the property have provided the impetus to learn what would have grown here for millennia, and how we can nurture and restore this eco system. Kererū have returned in recent months, and the satisfaction of feeding ourselves from the garden never tires.

For me, the process of researching and learning from other gardeners is as rewarding as gardening itself. Having mentors to offer advice has given me the confidence to continue gardening through, and learning from, my less successful efforts over the years (thanks Grandad Les :-)).

I have created Secret Gardens as a platform for sharing gardening knowledge, and to help empower a new generation of gardeners through a supportive community. We hope you’ll enjoy exploring our collection of gardens and meeting the passionate and inspiring gardeners who created them.

Ngā mihi, na

Jane Mahoney

Secret Gardens Founder

We like to call it 'The Stairway to Heaven' - in our garden, Lyttelton Harbour.

Think you might be interested in becoming a Secret Gardens host?

Fantastic! We'd love to talk further.

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