HAPPY PLACE: Linley puts in the work to keep her garden looking amazing. Photos Troy Baker D9285-24

ONE of the first changes Linley and Bruce Brownless made to their one-hectare Manawahe lifestyle property when they moved in was to plant 65 trees.

Four-and-a-half years later the planting is paying off as their garden takes shape into one of the most impressive in the Eastern Bay. It comes as no surprise, visiting this piece of hilltop paradise, that it was the winner of the supreme award for best country garden in this year’s Pride Whakatane District Garden Competition.

Linley is the architect of this domain, though it is through the support of her husband, Bruce, that she is able to achieve what she has. The couple had left an impressive garden at their previous property, their Braemar Road farm.

“I would have to call this my English garden,” Linley says, and it is easy to see why. Box hedging surrounds profusions of colourful flowers and lines pebbled walkways leading to secret courtyards, while neatly topiaried shrubs overlook bowling green lawns overlooking the Rangitaiki Plains.

Maples large and small shade hostas of every description, while roses hog the limelight in sunny spots – an Eye’s For You rose and the pale green Lemon ’n’ Lime bred by Rob Somerfield are among the favourites. Tall vertical delphiniums are putting on a magnificent display the day we are there. “They have done very well this year,” Linley says.

Natives are not forgotten, with titokis towering over beds of ringa ringa lilies, though exotics dominate. “I like a clean line,” Linley says of her neatly clipped shrubs.

She says she did not start completely from scratch. Some parts of the garden had been created by the previous owner. “What was here has given me the bones to start.” She has hopes for the garden to become a wedding venue at some stage in the future, though she insists that it is not ready yet. “Some parts of the garden have only recently been developed and are still becoming established.”

Linley says she chooses plants that will create colour and interest all year round. “There is always something coming on. Even when the roses are dormant there is something flowering.”