Grand Illusions may be the smallest of the gardens on our tour (800m2), but it sure makes use of every inch of available space. Utilising themed rooms designed and created by award-winning owner Craig Thorburn this property is eye-catching. Craig describes himself as a plant-a-holic particularly enjoying the challenge of growing unique sub-tropical varieties.
107 Main Street
From traditional box hedging and topiary through to copious exotics, hanging and climbing vines and of course plenty of structural elements such as the fountain, bird houses, and sculptures coming from the on-site shop there is inspiration in abundance here.
Craig’s style for his own garden is self-described as eclectic, dramatic, theatrical and even a bit over the top, it is hard to imagine the plain lawn that once was. Craig’s vision-radar peaked immediately on viewing the old Mayor’s house and land (it’s a stretch to call a lawn a garden!) from completely renovating the house and of course, the three-time gold winner at the Ellerslie Flower Show could not resist creating this stunning garden.
The rooms are reflective of Craig’s whims, memories and desire to be surrounded by colour and texture. The heights, colours and shapes of the ‘pots-a-plenty’ have allowed Craig to expand the garden without sacrificing designated spaces. You’ll note that Craig has perhaps run out of space on the ground to continue creating, not deterred, Craig thought outside the garden box and went up! Covering the verandah is an ornamental grapevine, a white Mandevilla vine rests over an archway and several window boxes of bright flowers and herbs adorn the house.
Attention to detail here is amazing – peripherals complementing the themes of each ‘room’ inside decorations spilling into the garden to create connectedness. While small you’ll spend time here seeing something new from every aspect and angle.
New in the garden to this year’s tour is the tropical room that houses Craig’s frost-sensitive epiphyllums – the orchid cacti of New Zealand.