Book Review: Frensham, a New Zealand Garden, by Margaret Long and Juliet Nicholas

Available in bookshops nationwide. 

cv_frensham_a_new_zealand_garden.jpgFrensham is a large garden just over a hectare, on the southern edge of Christchurch city. It was developed by Margaret Long and her husband Ron when they moved to the property twenty-seven years ago, the seven-year old-house having little garden around it at that stage. It has been a labour of love for Margaret which she shares in a stunning book as she takes the reader on a tour of the garden through the seasons.

In the prologue Long says ‘I embarked enthusiastically on my gardening journey, creating spaces and purchasing the many and varied plants then available from nurseries.’

Her husband Ron assisted with making structures to enhance the plantings and the name evolved from the rose Frensham, as it had been her father’s favourite rose.

‘The bush fires of 2017 … were the catalyst for Margaret’s wish to have a photographic record of the garden. The idea of writing the book about the creation of the garden…. was reconsidered now, and she realized that it would be the photographs alongside her words which would best tell the story,’ says Marilyn McRae in her introduction.

Frensham is an eye-catching hard cover book, with the author focusing on the four seasons and highlighting trees and plants which are a real feature during a particular month. Complimenting the text are numerous quality photographs by Christchurch photographer Juliet Nicholas. She has ‘lived’ with Frensham for an entire year, photographing its changes through the months and the seasons, and providing a unique insight into the growth and development of the garden.

The Long’s have shared their garden to visitors for twenty five years, being a wonderful venue for fundraising events at any time of the year. I was fortunate to visit Frensham earlier this year with a school fundraising tour of a number of neighbouring gardens, and as I look through the pages of the book I can relive my visit. It is a glorious book which can be picked up time and time again, and will be a handy reference to new gardeners as Margaret’s advice on planting and pruning is invaluable. She has accumulated a wealth of knowledge of plants and gardens over the years both here and overseas which is evident throughout the pages of this informative book with the inclusion of botanical plant names.

Reviewed by Lesley McIntosh

Frensham, A New Zealand Garden
by Margaret Long and Juliet Nicholas
Published by Quentin Wilson Publishing
ISBN 9780995105324