When Mary Pat Hogan visited New Zealand from the United States seven years ago, she embarked on a whirlwind romance with a stunning Coromandel garden.
The California landscape architect says when she and her partner, Larry Knorr, came to New Zealand for a holiday, they did not intend to become the proud owners of an iconic Kiwi garden.
“We came here on a Thursday afternoon,” she says. “I was sitting in the car reading the paper, all gardened out for the day. But I looked just a few steps into the garden and said, ‘Oh Larry, come look, it’s gorgeous, and it’s for sale’.
“We returned Friday morning to see the garden (fully) for the first time, put in an offer on Monday and the owners accepted it on Tuesday. It was one of those things. We just fell in love with the place!”
Once a rocky cow paddock, Waitati Gardens, on Coromandel Town’s Buffalo Road, was initially transformed by Kate and Graeme Jacobsen in 1994.
Today, the garden is visited by keen gardeners as it flourishes under Mary Pat’s expert, creative care.
However, Kate and Graeme are not far away.
“They live next door! They’re here all the time and they’ve become our best friends,” says Mary Pat.
Fragrant walkways lead through tranquil gardens of rare and unusual trees, shrubs and perennials and under a canopy of trees. A Vireya Rhododendron glade leads to water pools.
Named a Garden of Distinction on the National Garden Register by Canterbury Horticultural Society, Waitati was also recently named a New Zealand Gardens Trust Garden of Significance.
“It was a significant garden before, but now it’s achieved national significance,” Mary Pat says. “It’s an incredible honour; I was so pleased I was screaming!”
Sadly Mary Pat and Larry are now looking to move on. However, the couple is seeking new owners who will embrace their passion for this piece of paradise.
“We have had the gardens on the market for a while and we are hoping to find buyers who will love and care for it as we have,” Mary Pat says.
“New Zealand is a wonderful place to live; I just fell in love with the place and especially the people.”