The Story of a New Zealand Garden

This is my summer garden imagining itself to be Mrs Brayton’s garden in ‘The Story of a New Zealand River’ by Jane Mander. My garden has a vivid imagination. In reality, it is nothing like Mrs Brayton’s, except in that there is “always something more to know”.

Star Jasmine
Hydrangea
Heuchera
My trees and street trees make for a mini forest
Under the Michaelia
Back Path
Under the cherry tree
View from the bedroom window
Star Jasmine Pergola
Feverfew

“Some gardens, like great masses of complex machinery, arrest and fascinate the intellect, and satisfy one’s sense of arrangement, of clockwork management. They have no mysteries, however, no nesting places, no dream-compelling nooks. But inside that phalanx of pines above the river there grew a wonderful garden with all these things; a garden of dreams, a garden riotous with life; a garden of brilliant sunlights and deep shades; a garden of trees that hid the stars and of shy flowers peeping from the ground; a whispering garden full of secrets and suggestion; a garden where there was always something more to know.” Chapter 3, ‘The Story of a New Zealand River’ by Jane Mander. Published 1920.  New York : John Lane company; London, John Lane.

‘The Story of a New Zealand River’ is regarded as a New Zealand classic~ “… this is the first New Zealand novel to confront convincingly many of the twentieth century’s major political, religious, moral and social issues – most significantly women’s rights. Daring for its time in its exploration of sexual, emotional and intellectual freedom, the New Zealand Herald found the ending ‘too early for good public morality’. It is believed by many to be the inspiration of Jane Campion’s film The Piano.” (https://www.penguin.co.nz/books/the-story-of-a-new-zealand-river-9781775531326)

My garden and I wish you dreams, mysteries, life and shade, and always more things to know, in 2022.

ps This post comes with special thanks to Liz Gaffreau https://lizgauffreau.com/ who encouraged me to start reading ‘The Story of a New Zealand River’.

pps For those interested in literary connections, in Chapter 2 of ‘The Story of a New Zealand River’, Mrs Brayton mentions ‘The Story of an African Farm’ by Olive Schreiner. The Story of an African Farm was an immediate success when it was first published in 1883 and is considered one of the earliest feminist novels. It dealt, amongst other issues, with individualism, the professional aspirations of women, and the elemental nature of life on the colonial frontier.

94 thoughts on “The Story of a New Zealand Garden

    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Thanks Teagan. I am happy you had some time to enjoy my garden. I have just put out some food for the birds, something which I only do in winter. They are having a ball. I am sure you would enjoy watching them.

      Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Thank you. It is not so lovely at the moment in its winter attire but spring finery is not too far off. Do you know the other book I mentioned in my post, ‘The Story of an African Farm’ by Olive Schreiner?

      Reply
  1. Pingback: A Conversation with Kiwi – Me | silkannthreades

    1. Gallivanta Post author

      It’s been a long time! Here we are halfway through 22. The days are rushing by yet I seem to be slowing down judging by how little I get done on WordPress these days. Hope you are well.

      Reply
      1. Resa

        I am well. Hope you are, too!
        I’m not rushing anywhere, myself. It takes a long time to make gowns & do drawings.
        I blog for fun. It’s not a job…. so I take my sweet time!
        Nice to see you! xx

        Reply
  2. Playamart - Zeebra Designs

    All of those flowers are gorgeous, but that jasmine – stunning. Visiting your blog is like taking a timeout with an old friend, complete with flowers and discussions about literature.

    Whenever I check the earthquake site, I always peer across to see what’s happening in your area.
    Happy new year – may things sort themselves out and we move forward!

    Love
    Lisa

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Dear Lisa, thank you for your lovely comment. I wish I could offer more timeout and conversation but it just doesn’t seem to happen much these days. I think I must be in a fallow period. 🙂 Take care. May all be well with you.

      Reply
      1. Playamart - Zeebra Designs

        Just like the moon, we cannot always be shining and there for everyone.. the moon needs periods of rest, as do we. It’s enough for me just knowing you’re ‘over there’ – and I always check what’s happening in your area via the earthquake site.

        Reply
  3. Steve Gingold

    Happy New Year, Anne! Well, it may not be Mrs. Brayton’s Garden but appears lovely in your images just the same. And for us here in the U.S. northeast a welcome sight as we have pretty much sticks and mud so far.

    Reply
  4. realruth

    Your garden is beautiful. I was introduced to Jane Mander’s books 40 years ago and loved them – still have a copy of “The Story of a New Zealand River” ,but it’s a long time since I’ve read it.

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      That’s good to know. I only came to know about Jane Mander about 8 years ago. It has taken me since then to actually start reading her. I drove past your lovely cottage and garden a few days ago. I had just been to 16 Hurley Street to see if my old home was still there. Alas it has been removed or demolished; development awaits, no doubt. That house was supposed to be demolished in 1975 the year I lived there. So it did have an extended reprieve! Still, it makes me sad that it is no longer there.

      Reply
        1. Gallivanta Post author

          We didn’t have a phone or TV at 16 Hurley Street. The laundry was a shed out the back. When we wanted to make a phone call we had to go to the phone box near the pub opposite Piko. I probably passed your cottage very many times in 1975.

        2. realruth

          Gallivanta, would you be willing to write a few sentences about your experiences in Hurley Street, for our Avon Loop News? I’m sure people would be interested to read them. Send me an email at rely88@gmail.com if you’re willing.

    1. Gallivanta Post author

      I think the star jasmine this year is the most prolific it has ever been! I am glad you have discovered heucheras. I love their different colours and bless them for being so hardy.

      Reply
  5. YellowCable

    Lovely purple hydrangeas! I felt a little surprised to see them this time of the year at first but then realized that you are in the other half of the hemisphere. That makes a lot of sense 🙂 Happy New Year!

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Hi YC. Here I am, at last, to reply to your welcome comment. I can now say, Happy Longest Day of the Year to you (and shortest for me!). Where does time go?

      Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Thank you, Eileen. I was planning to read some more New Zealand books but I have been distracted by an Eileen; Eileen Chang, a Chinese-born American essayist, novelist, and screenwriter. I am now onto a third book written by her.

      Reply
  6. restlessjo

    I like the book title and the review makes it sound an interesting read. Whether I ever get there is a different matter altogether, but I do think I’d be happy in your garden. As I hope you are! Wishing you a healthy, contented year ahead, Ann!

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Thank you. And here I am replying to you 6 months later. Imagine! it is now our shortest day and soon to be your longest. My garden is a bit cold at the moment. I don’t think you would be happy in it just now. The only ones happy in it are the blackbirds. They still bathe in the bird bath every day and then feast on worms. 🙂

      Reply
      1. restlessjo

        If I believed in reincarnation I don’t think I would blackbird at the top of my list, but I’m sure I could do worse. It’s just good to know that you are still around, doing what you do.

        Reply
        1. Gallivanta Post author

          That’s a good way to put things; ‘doing what you do”. May we all (including blackbirds) do what we do and enjoy doing it. 🙂

  7. Liz Gauffreau

    I love your garden!! I can just smell the jasmine, and hydrangeas are a favorite of mine. I’m very excited by your reading of ‘The Story of a New Zealand River’. It is definitely on my list!

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Finally, I am here to reply. Have you had a chance to glance at The Story of a New Zealand River yet? My reading plans often get waylaid. I expect that yours do too.

      Reply
  8. Steve Schwartzman

    The flowers in your first pictures strike me rather as propellers than stars. And now I’m propelled to add that propellers got named for their function rather than their shape, unlike the floral stars in your photograph.

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      The perfume of the star jasmine is so lovely that it oftens propels my thoughts and feelings to my Fiji days where there were many similarly scented flowers.

      Reply
        1. Gallivanta Post author

          Oh, how lovely. I have met this flower before too. In Fiji and in India. 🙂 I didn’t know it is the national flower of the Philippines.

  9. shoreacres

    At first glance, I thought your Star Jasmine was our winter clematis. (Actually, that’s not a Texas native, but it likes to set up shop here in places.) The Heuchera is knew to me. I think I’ve seen other gardeners mention it, but I never looked it up. The foliage is gorgeous, and the number of colors is impressive. I see that a common name is Coral Bells. Now I’m wondering if the plant lies behind the old camp song, “White Coral Bells.” I always assumed ‘white coral bells’ were lily of the valley when I was a kid, but perhaps not.

    Is that a bird’s nest in the cherry tree? or just a collection of grasses?

    This reminded me of my inability to appreciate (too)formal gardens: ““Some gardens, like great masses of complex machinery, arrest and fascinate the intellect, and satisfy one’s sense of arrangement, of clockwork management. They have no mysteries, however, no nesting places, no dream-compelling nooks.” Exactly.

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Oh dear! It has taken me so long to respond to your comment. My garden has no precision and very little management! (Somewhat like my own life, I fear ) When I try to impose a little order the blackbirds do their best to undo it. The ‘bird’s nest’ in the cherry tree is actually a hanging basket filled with pinecones and driftwood collected on my walks. I like to think it provides some shelter for insects but that is most likely wishful thinking.

      Reply
      1. shoreacres

        Not necessarily. Gardeners here are encouraged to leave little bits of “mess” here and there for precisely that purpose. Beyond the insects, I once found a nest tucked into a hanging basket that had no flowers left at all. Nature tends to be opportunistic!

        Reply
        1. Gallivanta Post author

          Thanks for that encouragement. I would love it if some of the birds in my garden decided to nest in one of the hanging baskets. Unfortunately the sparrows are fixated on building nests in the spouting of my house which means they often lose their hard work (and babies) to either heat stroke or drowning! Occasionally I get a bold couple who recognise better nest sites.

  10. ladysighs

    I don’t garden! Backyard is just a jumble of nature. But it is different every spring …. depending where the deer have been and what the deer have dropped on their daily walk.

    Reply
  11. Herman

    I wish I could hang around in your beautiful garden right now. We’re still facing the winter while I’m counting the days to spring…

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Thank you, Marlene. I would love to have you out in my garden most any day. The jasmine is absolutely incredible this year; a mass of flowers and the bees are loving it. And the hydrangea is so large it is covering the back path.

      Reply
  12. Rebecca Budd

    I love your sentence: “always something more to know…”. That is the story of our life, isn’t it? It is what gives meaning to our lives. I found the book “The Story of an New Zealand River” by Jane Mander on the Internet Archives: https://archive.org/details/storyanewzealan00mandgoog

    How I wish that I could slip through the screen and join you for a cup of tea. Your garden has a lush and fragrant feeling. Lovely post, Mandy. Many thanks. And many thanks to Liz Gauffreau.

    Reply
  13. Mél@nie

    1000 MERCI for your lovely post and kind wishes, dear friend! as you know, yesterday we stopped over (again!) @ Yoda Fountain, and recalled his wise words in one of the “Star Wars” episode:“Harmony, we seek. Reality, we accept. The future, we behold. Feel the Force, and go beyond.” Wish you all a better, merrier and safe 2022! Love ya and miss ya… ❤

    Reply
  14. Juliet

    Your garden looks like a true paradise, full of soothing colours and a delightful combination of wildness and shelter. Thank you for the reminder of Jane Mander’s book, which I am now prompted to re-read.

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Thank you, Juliet. The only thing which is missing to make the garden perfect is native birds. I have only read 3 chapters so far of Jane Mander’s book but I am really taken with it. Do you remember when you first read “The Story of a New Zealand River”?

      Reply
      1. Juliet

        I have the 1975 edition, so I guess that’s when I would have read it. I believe tree lucerne is a good fast-growing plant to attract the native birds, and then they drop seeds and the native trees come up by themselves.

        Reply
        1. Gallivanta Post author

          Oh, thank you, for that tip, Juliet. I think it would work well in my garden especially as it is drought tolerant. If you last read Mander’s book in 1975 it might be fun to see how you respond to it, all these years later.

    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Thank you, Lavinia. I love this time of year before the garden starts to dry out in the summer’s heat. Happy to share the book references. It fascinates me that Jane Mander studied and worked in the US from 1912 to 1925. It was that time in the US that helped her to write her great NZ novel.

      Reply

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