Cheryl and Murray Hall’s Southbridge property is a special corner of paradise; a gorgeous home set in an English country garden. A true labour of love, this amazing garden is the result of just two years’ work!

The first thing you notice as you slowly move along the sweeping driveway is the scale of the garden. Sitting on three acres of parklike grounds, it’s hard to comprehend that just two years ago it was rocks and rubble. This is a deceptively young garden.

“I knew the minute I saw the property, that I wanted it. It was pretty much an instant decision, Cheryl laughs. “I could see the potential to create our dream garden.”

The couple lived in a caravan on site for a year while they built their home: a reasonably traditional, four bedroomed, red brick bungalow. Inside, it is a light, airy home with a lovely flow and every room looks out onto yet another aspect of this delightful garden.

No stranger to hard work, (they have owned a variety of businesses from pig farms to pubs), they started work on the garden the minute they arrived. “A lot of the boundary trees were already well established, but from there it has been hard graft. It’s work we love though,” Cheryl smiles, “so it’s not really work at all.”

Whatever you call it, they have created a beautiful home, in the midst of a green, rolling, ever-changing landscape. The large lawn and trees are the starting point. There’s a sense of flow from the house to the deck, to the gazebo and to every part of the garden.

“I’m a planter, not a gardener,” Cheryl says. I beg, borrow and steal plants from friends and anyone I know. If I see something I like, I can instantly imagine the perfect spot for it.”  The enormous canna lilies against one side of the house came from her previous home. Before she moved out, she broke up the bulbs and gave them to her sister, who consequently returned the favour.

Hours of backbreaking work went into weeding a huge mound of dirt, which is now a well-planted, graduated island. A second mound is still a work in progress and some recently acquired naked lady bulbs have just been planted.

Flowering cherries, roses, native grasses, gladiolas, hydrangeas, clematis, hedging, camellias, dahlias, aquilegia and carnations all thrive alongside each other in a riot of texture and colour. There are also “thousands” of spring bulbs scattered throughout. “There’s always something blooming.”

Behind the home is the ‘halfway house’ where newly acquired plants and shrubs are planted until ‘the perfect spot’ makes itself known.

Numerous garden sculptures, water features, urns, ornaments, pots and quirky knick knacks are all to be enjoyed.

One of Cheryl’s favourite places to sit is in the gazebo in the centre of the lawn, where she can glance across at the statue of the Goddess Diana amidst the line of cherry trees. “I really do think I’m in paradise, here.”

Cheryl estimates she spends an average of 20 hours per week in her garden. “Gardening really grows on you. I love the outdoors and my garden is an extension of that. It’s my special time and place.” These days, a lot of her focus is on upkeep. “I do a lot of cleaning, weeding, deadheading and pruning. Maintenance is largely a matter of things decaying, though. I like my garden to be easy-care.”

With their trees, perennials and orchard boasting fruit-laden apricots, pears, plums and apples, this is a garden at offers something unique and beautiful at every turn. truly special and beautiful garden.

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Judy McAuliffe is a writer, and publisher Essence Mid Canterbury. Her experience in media is extensive and includes approximately 15 years as Creative Director for The Radio Network, writing, and managing the writing of radio advertising, mainly in Invercargill and Greymouth. In the late 1990’s she transferred to Christchurch, moving into an Account Management role with 91ZM. In 2007 she and a business partner set up Essence Mid Canterbury, very quickly adapting her radio-writing skills to print media. Judy became sole owner of Essence Mid Canterbury in June 2014. Judy is a ‘people person’ and has found her niche writing feature stories about the community she lives in and the people who live there. She is also available for freelance writing assignments.