Over 35 years Awariki (little river) has evolved from an old farm cottage into a family home and ornamental garden with stunning specimen trees. Paper birches line the driveway of David and Lesley Marsh’s five-hectare lifestyle block.

The bulk of the farm was amalgamated with an adjourning property two years ago. A Warren Jackson corrugated iron cow sculpture looks at home among the annuals.

Lesley and David do all of the gardening. Lesley plans the planting and is a great propagator. All of the buxus hedging she has grown from tiny stems. It takes time to start from small propagations but the rewards are worth it.

Flowers abound here; roses, irises, peonies (including some from Lesley’s grandmother’s garden) are found in a dedicated peony bed near the house. There’s a white garden, and a white wisteria.

Twin ivy-covered archways are a striking sight as you first look up the driveway. The ivy came from Lesley’s wedding bouquet in 1971. Forty years later, Lesley and David’s daughter shared the same ivy in her wedding bouquet.


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A walkway at the back of the tennis court is bounded by a newly completed fence woven with grapevine cuttings.

Beyond the house and garden is a private path up to a picturesque hut with an outlook over a covenanted area of native bush, protected in perpetuity by QEII. The cabin was initially built as a retreat to take grandchildren to stay, away from TV and the internet.

It is a special place of peace and healing, available for overnight stays through the Cancer Society. The balcony is a beautiful spot to pause and reflect. You can watch the tuis flitting among the flaxes and gaze out to the rolling farmland of Martinborough beyond the bush.