This spring ‘picking’ garden takes its name from County Antrim in Northern Ireland where our gardener’s family come from. Full of life and colour it includes a small stream and a red-painted bridge as a nod to Tatton Park in England.

62 Cole St

Ngaire Stevens and her husband Peter (known as Stiggs) have gardened at their half-acre Masterton garden for 30 years. Growing up rurally in Pahiatua Ngaire took her gardening lead from her mother who created beautiful gardens and always took flowers to people. She was part of a country group of talented women who shared a passion for growing, picking and arranging flowers. This is something Ngaire carries on with her own garden – she grows flowers to cut, arrange and gift, and loves having flowers in the house.

A small stream – complete with very large eels – flows along the boundary and feeding them proves a fun activity for visiting grandchildren.

Despite the stony soil (remnant of its time as a riverbed), Ngaire’s green fingers have added colour in the form of lilies, camellias, wisteria, flowering cherries and dogwoods, peonies and bulbs – an ad-hoc array. Come spring there’ll be sweetpeas, rhododendrons, and masses of irises.

One of the more unusual plants is a Chilean Bell Flower Lapageria Rosea. It grows near the front entrance to the house.

Old totara fence posts from Pahiatua have been put to use in the garden and there are tall raised beds for growing vegetables and herbs.

Ngaire has created Ballymena through the years – a result of her daydreaming, gathering ideas from books and visiting other gardens. She is inspired by English designers Arne Maynard and Monty Don.

She’s also been a loyal volunteer for the Wairarapa Garden Tour for many a year. This year, she’s opening her garden for the first time.

Closed-in flat shoes are advised. Take care walking near the stream.