Terrace Station at Hororata opens its heritage garden and 15 hectares of woodland for visitors every spring with this year’s first open day being Snowdrop Sunday, August 11.

by Ann van Engelen

“This is when the woodland floor is carpeted with snowdrops with their delicate greenery and white flowers,” says publicity volunteer Trish Hall.

“We have around a dozen volunteers who help on the open days to keep the station experience going. We have a lot of gardening enthusiasts come along at different times. Kate and Richard still live here, and people come from all over the world and interact with us.”

Open days in September, October and November provide violets and primroses, daffodils, bluebells, aquilegia, trilliums, foxgloves and other early summer flowers.

“The garden is known as an oasis for birds, butterflies, bees and other insects which often modern farming systems do not provide a suitable environment for. The location is a haven for people who want to visit a peaceful arbour to retreat from the stresses of modern life. The woodland walkway highlights magnificent 150-year-old trees, such as sequoias and oaks, along with Acer maples, linden limes, holm oaks, and cedars.

“Terrace Station was the home of Sir John Hall — runholder, politician and reformer, and his wife Rose, and is still lived in by their descendants. The Terrace Station Charitable Trust was established in 2002 to preserve and maintain the homestead and buildings for the benefit of the public.

“The homestead planting started prior to 1860, and if you look up you will see massive hornbeam, Portuguese laurel, sycamores, horse chestnuts, and elms. Visitors can also find celery pine, medlar, gingko and judas trees. The garden has developed from a more formal Victorian garden to the informal country garden you see today.”

There are many significant old buildings with a rich history, which are gradually being renovated.

“The Hutch is full of old farming and garden tools. It is a mystery what some were used for, and they have caused much lively debate. The Shepherd’s Stinky is furnished in an appropriate way to characterise how the shepherds actually lived.

“Major restorations are happening on the Swaggers Hut, and the chimney has been rebuilt using old bricks, and there will be display panels inside to tell some of the stories.

“The quiz table is a much loved regular feature of the spring open days and displays fascinating 19th-century domestic items for guests to mull over and discuss.

“Children will be given printed suggestions for self-guided activities to keep them amused while the adults enjoy the garden. Visitors are welcome between 11am and 3pm and are encouraged to bring a picnic to enjoy on the lawns of the historic home.

“A welcoming brazier will entice visitors to warm their fingers and toes if the weather is inclement and we have woodland plants for sale along with giveaways.

“The property is signposted from Hororata roundabout.

“It is an amazing garden to volunteer at, and it is thanks to the family and volunteers that people are able to experience this piece of history. The carpet of snowdrops in August makes it a spectacular scene.”

The garden visit is $5 entry, which goes to the Terrace Station Charitable Trust — children are free. Please leave dogs at home. No EFTPOS is available.

For more information on tour options and pricing go to
terracestation.org.nz.