It was the first touring day of our 3-week garden tour of New Zealand with the American Horticultural Society and our Kiwi-born guide (and Pennsylvania-based landscape architect) Richard Lyon of Garden Adventures, Ltd. We headed away from Auckland on the north island, stop #1 on the itinerary map below…
… leaving its beautiful skyline behind us.
Before long, we arrived at Totara Waters, Peter and Jocelyn Coyle’s specialist bromeliad nursery and subtropical garden in Auckland’s Whenuapai suburb. If you can imagine a garden as the love-child of Roberto Burle Marx’s tropical tapestries and the spiky succulents of the American southwest, this one might be it. On a lush hillside overlooking a sound within Waitematā Harbour, we were met with beds of bromeliads under palm trees.
Peter and Jocelyn related the history of their garden, begun in 1999.
There were collections of cycads around the house, some adorned with the Coyles’ vintage planters and chimney pots.
I loved photographing the cones of cycads, including this male cone of the sago palm cycad (C. revoluta).
And as a honey bee photographer, I was fascinated to see them avidly harvesting pollen from that cycad’s cone.
Near the house was Dasylirion acrotrichum or green sotol.
On the hillside overlooking the water was an impressive collection of succulents.
It’s always lovely to see a well-grown spiral aloe (A. polyphylla)….
….and a perfect agave…..
…. including agaves in flower as well.
What a stunning Aloe bainesii.
At the bottom of the two-acre garden, there was an unusual water feature: the rusted hulk of a decommissioned navy ship, the Hawera. The Hoyles added their own rusty art to echo the wreck.
A small nursery onsite attracts bromeliad-lovers…..
…. and also provides an outlet for Totara’s named introductions, like Neoreglia ‘Totara War Paint’, below.
Bromeliads, of course, featured large at Totara Waters, including a stunning Alcantarea imperialis in flower near the garden’s parrot cage…..
….and a beautiful Vriesea splendens.
There was a good collection of bonsai plants…..
…and what is said to be the largest staghorn fern (Platycerium bifurcatum) in all New Zealand.
In the garage driveway was a restored Chevy truck, appropriate for Peter Coyle, who made his career as a ‘panel beater’, which is Kiwi slang for a collision repair specialist.
It was a delight to be there; then we were in the bus and heading inland to another beautiful garden and our first communal New Zealand dinner.