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Dead Rabbits Run 

Dead Rabbits Run was once a garden under siege by introduced predators.  Its story begins after the  1855 earthquake where forest at the base of the Remutaka Ranges was lifted along the southern fault. Dense bush eventually gave way to paddocks and stock as farmers settled the Southern Wairarapa.

347 Underhill Road
Featherston

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Fast forward to 2010 when current owners Anne and Derek decided to make this 3.9 hectares their own with a mission to restore the remnant forest to its former glory.  Trapping pests became a priority and 10 years on it’s still a big part of their gardening practice.

Reclaiming the forest by fencing off from stock was the first step to encourage previously browsed undergrowth to flourish. Kawakawa and titoki have thrived ever since.  Regenerating kahikatea and developing a nursery to continue plantings is ongoing. They have learned by trial and error.

Derek is a self-taught gardener who loves restoring the forest. He observes the canopy layers and restores the natives as they would have been naturally. Kererū, Korimako (Bellbirds) and tui are frequent residents here.   Inspired by Victorian stumperies, Derek has also created lush ferneries and mossy environments as old decaying trees make way for new life.   

Walking through the forest is not unlike walking in the Pūkaha Reserve at Mt Bruce.  These gardeners have a special connection with the national wildlife centre and are passionate conservationists.  Anne’s love of gardening and nature was inspired by her grandparents who were keen gardeners.  Both Derek and Anne want to protect the bush as much as possible to welcome back the birds.  

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Other delights include weaving around the Maple Acers where soft light brings colour throughout the seasons. There is more colour too with  rhododendrons, tall purple spires of echiums, hydrangeas (raspberry crush) all grown from cuttings. You’ll find roses, irises, clivias, camellias, peonies and kakabeak.  

Coming out into the clearing reveals a 200 year old Kanuka – a rare sight in gardens today. Standing tall out in the open, its like a sentinel from another time, keeping watch.

Beyond the house Anne and Derek are developing a new patio area and potting shed near to the orchard which you’re welcome to explore on tour.

There is plenty of space to relax in and BYO picnics are welcome.

GALLERY