Twelve years ago two city dwellers upped sticks and bought a piece of dirt in the country. It’s not a new story, but the journey for Tracey O’Callaghan and Jim Kettle has led them to create not only a garden, but a lifestyle that’s grounding and rewarding.
4 Admiral Road
Previously sheep grazing land, the first challenge was to create shelter. Camping out on the land before building, and testing out the seasons gave time and space to get a sense for what plants would thrive in Gladstone’s hot dry summers and wet frosty winters.
Planting to attract birdlife was also a priority. Natives were chosen to suit the conditions and to offer shelter. There are now also Mediterranean influences and Australian plantings. With a natural and informal approach, Tracey and Jim opt for low maintenance, developing ideas as they go, rather than having a strict master plan.
Tracey loves sharing the garden with tūī and piwakawaka and takes satisfaction from knowing the garden provides a welcome haven for many birds.
The Summit Lodge opened to tourgoers in 2015. Since then there has been considerable growth and new additions. Tracey’s zen garden is a calming outlook beyond her cabin where she offers life coaching and hypnotherapy. This area is less than two years old.
Plenty of novoflow drainage was installed early on (beneath the paths) to stop plants from drowning over winter. Soil moisture is retained in summer by deep mulching and dense planting leaves little opportunity for weeds to thrive.
A diverse mix of edibles grow in the greenhouse and there are berries and root crops in the productive garden around the back as well as a fruit tree orchard producing plums, quince, apples and pears.
Summit Lodge also provides accommodation.