Palm Haven 

A tropical oasis in Masterton?

Palm Haven is not your typical urban backyard garden. Instead, it’s like stepping into warmer climes… a tropical getaway… with the leaves chattering in the breeze.

This garden is a testament to one gardener’s determination and commitment to create his own private paradise. When Dan Matthews was told by his local gardening centre that he was wasting his time, it made him even more determined to give it a go.

94 Bentley St



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Inspired by holidays spent in northern Queensland, Dan’s vision was to bring the tropics home to his own garden to enjoy with his family all year round. 

15 years on, Dan’s perseverance and patience has paid off, but it’s been a team effort. Dan’s wife Demelza had a hand in the overall design, wanting productive areas and ornamentals amidst the palms. It required compromises at times but the end result is a balance of form, colour and practicality. Demelza’s domain is the vegetable garden and fruit trees. Avocados are next on her list.

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In Palm Haven you’ll find more than 100 palms, all nurtured by Dan – many from seedlings. With at least 15 varieties of palms now maturing well, he can recite all their common and scientific names and knows the quirky attributes of each one. 

Dan’s recipe for success involves three weather apps, semi-permanent umbrella stands in the garden that he connects the canopies into and then covers with blankets. If it’s 2am and a frost is coming, he’ll be out in his garden, protecting the youngest palms. That’s commitment.

Expect to see a variety of palms: Pygmy date, Ponytail, Kentia, Bangalow, Washington robusta (think Hollywood Boulevard), Phoenix, Jelly palm (with enormous fruit that taste like a cross between a pineapple and apricot).

With its very own hula bar, Palm Haven is a garden to relax in and admire the effort it took to bring it to life.

We’re delighted that Dan and Demelza have chosen Pūkaha’s garden tour to share Palm Haven with the public for the first time.