Saturday, January 15, 2011

Coastal Delights

View from "The Store" at Kekerungu
We we're back in the South for the Christmas break. Time spent in the Marlborough region - both the wine region of Blenheim and in "The Sounds". Two starkly different areas within half an hours drive of each other. In addition to time spent here we took a little jaunt down the East Coast to deliver my mother to visit friends in Christchurch. On the way we paused for coffee at "The Store" at Kekerungu - about an hour from Blenheim.

"The Store" is a cafe and restaurant right on the Coast. Our visit coincided with calm, sunny and warm weather but this is not always the case. Wild, cold and wintry feather is as much a feature of this coastline.

As you can imagine in terms of landscaping only the robust will do.  This applies to the hard landscaping and soft landscaping.  Everything from pergola, to tables, to chairs to decoration must be hardy and deal with lashings of wind, rain, cold and salt.

The building was designed by local architect Jimma Dillon whose philosophy is that buildings should sit comfortably and preferably discreetly within their landscape surrounded by indigenous plantings.  This building itself is a modern interpretation of traditional cob buildings.

The Store's landscape is an interesting mix between formality and wilderness and uses both exotic and native plants including some of New Zealand's most maligned species to great effect.

The Shrub "Taupata" Coprosma repens, used in hedging and to frame the cascade of steps leading to the beach

In particular the landscaping of the store makes great use of the hardy coastal native known to most New Zealander's as Taupata - more commonly known overseas as Mirror Bush - in reference to its very shiny rounded leaves (Coprosma repens).  

Mirror Bush has orange berries which are much loved by birds and consequently it is a rapid self seeder and quite weedy (it has colonised itself with great enthusiasm in parts of coastal South Eastern Australia).  

It's outstanding characteristic however is that it is a frontline coastal plant and will take lashings of all that can be dished out by a wild coastal location.  At Kekerungu it is used to great effect as a formal hedging plant and it is the only place I have ever seen where it has been used as such.

Formal hedges at the front of The Store make use of Muehlenbeckia complexa another wonderful native shrub with wonderful divaricating foliage (in other words it branches off at all angles).  This is one of my all time favourites and what I like to call a Dr Seuss plant as its growth habit looks quite improbable.

This is mixed in with big tubs of Agapanthus, grape vines (in the more sheltered spots), Ngaio trees (Myoporum laetum), Puka (Meryta sinclairii) and the Cabbage Tree (Cordyline australis) another one of my Dr Seuss favourites.

In addition to all the architectural and planting delights The Store has great food and coffee - so if you're in the neighbourhood I suggest a visit!


The Intercontinental Gardener said...

Hi Tine,
greetings from another Dr Seauss fan here on the other side of Pacific... I would like to be in the neighbourhood to be able to visit. We just visited Melbourne and I was so happy to see the Botanical gardens lush again after the long drought broke. Next time, New Zealand, I hope! I love your new layout, I have to something about my blog soon...

Kelda said...

Kia ora! I'm currently researching into growing an experimental coffee plant in wellington or whanganui, is it true that the Taupata, or Mirror Bush is a relation of the Coffea plant? Any ideas if you can actually harvest and consume the berries (safely!)?
Many thanks