A visit to Dursley Garden is like stepping back in time. It’s a rare opportunity to visit a garden that’s over 100 years old in Aotearoa.
This beauty was designed in 1916 by Alfred Buxton. Known then as Te Rangi Pai, it became Dursley Garden in the 1930s. Lovingly tended since 1972, Judith Callaghan is its chief gardener.
1899 Te Ore Ore Bideford Road
Judith comes from a matriarchal family of gardeners – her mother and grandmother were keen plantswomen and loved bringing the birds into their gardens. Judith appreciates the changing seasons in the garden and plants for continuous layers of flowers as the days start to lengthen.
In summer, hundreds of lilies of 15-20 varieties feature throughout the woodland area and a large clump of California tree poppies are striking when in full bloom. Three herbaceous borders provide views from the house. Care has been taken not to plant out the panoramic views to the eastern hills, appreciated from the seats where you can sit and ponder, while listening to the birds.
A 1917 arbutus and weeping birch give stature, with some original rose bushes featuring among the 400 now growing at Dursley. Many other established trees, underplanted with bulbs, form a woodland carpeted with colourful swathes to reflect the seasons; daffodils, bluebells, galanthus and grape hyacinths, then in autumn come drifts of cyclamens.
Long views under the trees are retained naturally with pathways through scented azaleas, rhododendrons, camellias and tree peonies.
Judith also maintains a thriving edible garden boasting asparagus, root veges, chillies and plenty of citrus varieties. She makes pickles and preserves from her bountiful produce.
Dursley spans almost two hectares and is one to take your time wandering in. Bring a picnic and stop to admire the views while considering the love and care that goes into tending such a grand garden. It certainly is a labour of love.
Pūkaha is very grateful to Judith for joining the garden tour this year. It’s well worth the journey.
Many thanks to Rachel Callaghan for sharing her stunning photos of Dursley.