Garden history

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Longbush Cottage is a modern cottage garden located in the beautiful central-Wairarapa rural Carterton District, New Zealand. At the garden’s heart is a small cottage built in the 1890s and originally from Eketahuna, that was moved to the property in 1998. The cottage has since been fully restored from its former derelict state.

Longbush Cottage was part of a working farm for over 100 years until the farm was subdivided during the 1990s. In 2015, the cottage and one-hectare of land were divided from the original four-hectare block.

We (Luke and Ben) purchased the cottage in 2016 with the intention of using the property as a weekend retreat, whilst continuing to live in Wellington during the week. However, after less than a month we realised that Longbush was where we wanted to be full-time.

At our Wellington property, I had created a cottage garden (New Zealand Gardener magazine, August 2015) so the prospect of creating something on a much larger scale, whilst daunting, was exciting.

When we arrived, there was no garden to speak of. Other than a small rose garden along one side of the house and a few trees scattered around the property, it was mostly a grazing paddock for sheep. A blank canvas waiting to be planted!

I began formulating a garden plan, imagining garden-rooms to break up the paddock, planting trees, creating pathways of intrigue, and of course thinking of the many, many, plants I would need. From the rough sketch I created in 2016, to a mapped plan of the property, we have been working to implement my vision for the last four years… with several years to go.

Although Longbush Cottage is a young garden, it is developing an atmosphere of its own which will only enhance as we continue to develop further gardens. Planting around the large pond (or mere) and the island is adding to this atmosphere by creating a diverse environment that is encouraging native birds, bees, and frogs to make their home.

Thankfully, most of our plans have been successful. However, like all gardens, there has been some trial and error. Still, overall, the garden has thrived despite the heavy clay soil and wet winters that are followed by long dry summers.

We hope your visit to Longbush Cottage (conveniently just 20mins from Carterton, 20mins from Martinborough, and 20mins from Masterton) will inspire you.