The design for the gardens at The Old Oak was inspired by local heritage gardens and our hillside of native bush. We spent a lot of time visiting and photographing the beautiful gardens at the Pompallier Mission in Russell, the Waitangi Treaty House gardens, and the charming colonial garden at the Kemp house in Kerikeri, among others. These gardens were all working gardens – generally formal in design and planted to provide food and flowers for the occupants. Similarly, we designed our gardens in a formal layout with raised beds for the vegetables and citrus orchard, gravel paths, and flower borders.
We’ve built a shell petanque court in the center of the formal gardens and at its end there’s a native Nikau palm. At the back of the formal gardens, a hillside of native bush encloses and shelters the garden with Pongas (native tree ferns), palms, and shrubs that cascade down the hill creating a wall of green and a haven for birds. At the front of the formal gardens, the views are clear to the harbour and the beautiful green rolling hills across the water.
Although we have included many native plants throughout the gardens, we, like our colonial ancestors, have also planted non-native cottage garden flowers including foxglove, hyacinths, delphiniums, hydrangeas, camellias, and of course, roses. Our rose garden features ‘Iceburg’, ‘Superbowl’, ‘Sharifa Asma’, ‘Michele Meilland’, ‘Peace’, ‘Remember Me’, ‘Alexander’, and ‘Dublin Bay’. All our flowers, and in particular the roses, are cut for use in the hotel.
In addition to the hotel verandas, there are many patios around the property and chairs, benches, tables, and barbeque are provided. The largest patio, in front of the café, looks out at the harbour views. Behind the building, the back patios and gardens are surrounded by the native bush hillside. There is a natural cave there that is reputed to have once been a hiding place for whalers who jumped ship.
The Old Oak gardens were installed by local tradesmen and planted with the help of our friends and neighbors. We use natural pesticides and all our weeding is by hand – no poison of any kind is used. These are functional gardens that provide food, flowers, and outdoors rooms. We love sharing them with our guests and community. We hope that you will enjoy them.