Central Gardens
Joan Lawrence at the entrance to the garden. Photos Jan Hawkins

We explore some of Cromwell’s extraordinary gardens.

For Joan and Tony Lawrence, it’s all about design and colour palette.

Joan and Tony Lawrence have a great combination of talents when it comes to establishing beautiful gardens. 

Tony likes to design, Joan’s delight is in colour combinations, both have the passion and most essentially, no aversion to hard work.

Experience is a big factor too – this seven-year-old garden is the fifth that the couple have established.  

Joan trained as an archeologist, and brings a sense of history and research, and a world view.

The garden is rich in rare and unusual plants from all over the world, but her top tip for gardeners is to check the plant’s origins, “That has a huge effect on where to plant it – if it comes originally from Siberia or the Prairies of USA, that will show you how you will deal with it here.”

Tony works on the design of an area of their large garden, and does all the landscaping, then Joan decides on the plants and colour combination for that area.

“My whole philosophy comes from being a frustrated creative – it’s always about colour.

If an orange plant decided to pop up here,” says Joan, “It would be removed.”, explaining that she treats a garden like a painting.

The couple takes pleasure in reading a lot of garden books, which are great influences on them.  They have also visited gardens in the Middle East, America, UK and France – France being their greatest influence. 

They have a wonderful food garden area, too, with impressive displays of tomatoes, greens and fruit.  Even then, some plants are there for their aesthetic appeal. 

A tall vegetable of the kale family, cavil nero, ‘black cabbage’ will probably not reach their table, but go to the chook run,

“We grow it for eggs,” jokes Tony.

Joan used to be the editor of Heritage Roses New Zealand and was an archeological illustrator before they came to Cromwell, to establish Aurum Wines.

Tony an orthodontist, is a perfectionist, who loves a classic design, lining everything up to the millimeter.  Inside that precision, Joan can go wild with planting.