There’s no signs for the secret garden at 545 Matakana Road, but hidden out the back of the Protea Patch nursery is an Eden of undulating lawns, running rivers and placid ponds.
The garden has been closed for maintenance over recent months, but owner Carol van Dyk is planning to reopen it in October in time for the protea flowering season.
As well as a rich diversity of exotic plants, the garden is home to 40 species of birds, from kaka to kookaburra.
Sculptural forms reveal themselves as the garden unfolds to explorers.
There are metalwork pieces, including small books that emerge from the bush and have sayings inspired by the Bahá’í faith. The works were created by local artist and actress Ilona Rodgers.
The garden also features several natural sculptures, including archways created by fallen trees and ponga logs that have been cut in half to reveal stunning patterns.
“The natural sculptures change each year as they degrade and become ecosystems in themselves.
The theme of this place is transformation – because we all transform and that’s natural,” Carol says.
The garden was built as a labour of love by past owners Wendy Marshal and Tony White. Carol, along with her husband, Dave, trained with them for months to take it over, along with the attached propagation business.
“My vision is to keep it accessible to the public. We would welcome keen gardening volunteers.”
Carol says the wanderers that find Matakana’s secret garden include families that come for a picnic and young couples taking photographs.
One time the garden hosted a LARP – a live action role play – in which a group of characters arrived in costume and followed the narration of a storyteller.
“They spent three hours here and were blown away by the scenery,” Carol says.
The garden is only open when Carol is there for part of the week and most weekends, but those interested in discovering it can message the Protea Patch Facebook page.
To visit the park, Carol charges $5 koha, which covers mowing the lawns.
The Protea Patch nursery is also having plant sales at the end of September and at the end of October.
Rare specimens in stock this season include a deep red Telopea Burgundy, a pink flower with autumn tones named Ethel Taylor, and a ‘brimstone bush’ with a red flower and white tips.
Fiery Sunset Protea
Carol van Dyk