How Carolyn Ferraby created the famed hawthorn walk at Barewood Garden

The gardeners of Barewood tell their secrets to recreating a beautiful feature of their landscape.

Photos: Jane Ussher

The famed hawthorn walk at Barewood Garden in Marlborough is gardener Carolyn Ferraby’s pride and joy.

“I loved the wild hawthorn which we have on the farm, and I wanted a formal avenue with a rural feel.”

She used a special grafted hawthorn (Crataegus laevigata Plena) and says it makes a big contribution to her garden but in a subtle way.

“In order to create a calm experience, it is important to transition from one area (or room in the garden) to another and this is often done by a simple green area, or grass mown at a different height, or routine shapes which take the eye in a specific direction.

The hawthorn walk of Barewood Garden.

The hawthorn walk, for example, leads from the busy colours of the rose garden down to the more secluded pond and orchard area, and does so along a symmetrical and structured planting, all in calm colours.

“People always say the garden is so serene, but they can’t put their finger on why. I believe this is the reason.”

The total area it covers is 60 metres long by 12 metres wide. The width of the tree spacings is 6 metres and they are 3 metres apart.

Carolyn and Joe Ferraby of Barewood Gardens.  Barewood has a second ‘walk’ of Malus tschonoskii, creating the feel of a cloister in an ancient cathedral.

Those dimensions have created a walk of perfection for the 1000 or so visitors Carolyn and her family host each year. She says there’s only one thing she would do differently.

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“I love the end result of the look of the hawthorn, but we would sow a more shade-tolerant grass because as the trees have grown, obviously more shade is cast.”

The other aspect to the drama of the walk is the lawn. It is a mix of different plants, one deliberate, the rest left to chance.

“We just sowed the fine lawn grass down the centre and used the existing (coarse) pasture grass on the outside and under the trees,” says Carolyn’s husband Joe. “I do spray it once a year to get rid of the clover and any weeds. I think it is important to have the fine lawn species in the walkway so it matches the lawns at both ends.”

The coarser longer grass that surrounds the walk is mown every four weeks or so. If there is an event, Joe will take it down to 75mm about a week beforehand so the grass reaches about 100-125mm and no longer shows the wheel marks.

“I always catch the grass. When it is very long I will first mow it without the catcher, let it wilt for a few hours, and then run over it again with the catcher and pick up the grass clippings.”

The finer lawn down the centre of the walkway gets more regular care.

“The finer one, the walkway down the centre of the avenue, is mown when the lawns are, about once a week during the season. It is always mown with the catcher and is mown at about 20-25mm.”

Joe’s careful manicuring is greatly appreciated by the head gardener.

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“One of the few clever things I’ve done in my life is to never learn how to mow in straight lines,” says Carolyn. “That’s Joe’s domain.”


What Carolyn Ferraby learned creating Barewood Garden in Marlborough

NZ Lifestyle Block This article first appeared in NZ Lifestyle Block Magazine.
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