Ekatahuna is a small town in northern Wairarapa – one of those places you usually drive through to get to wherever it is you are going. Perhaps a quick stop at the public conveniences, or maybe to buy an ice-cream or cold drink to enjoy in the car as the journey continues. The giant kiwi dressed in an All Black jersey welcomed visitors to his town.
We were in Ekatahuna to visit the Waieka Country Garden, a labour of love for Joy and Bruce Cole. The garden started life as a small area of paddock back in 1981, and just kept growing and growing. It has evolved into seven “rooms”, that flow from one to another. White doves cooed softly in the aviaries, not at all bothered as we peered through the netting at them.
Spring blossom adorned some of the trees, while others were heavily in bud. Sunny yellow daffodils popped up here, there and everywhere throughout the different areas of the garden. It all looks quite different in summer we were told, when the bare branches are covered once more in many different shades of green.
Joy loves her garden but admits that the bad weather can ruin many a dream, with storms, heavy frosts, and strong winds taking their toll on her precious plants. But she perseveres, and once the sun returns, is back out again, hard at work again. She has planted a huge array of trees and shrubs, and has decorated the garden with all sorts of quirky ornaments. Bruce enjoys working with his hands and constructed this shade house after being inspired by a trip to Europe. There are seats inside, to sit quietly enjoying the filtered sunlight on a hot sunny day.
We ate our picnic lunch on our hosts deck, all rugged up in jackets to keep warm. Even though it was a sunny day, the wind had quite a bite to it. Out came the sandwiches and thermos flasks, and I took along a home baked chocolate cake to share with everyone for afters.
Another of Joy’s passion is her doll collection, all 2000 of them. These are beautifully displayed on shelves, in prams, and sitting in highchairs. Most of the dolls have been purchased at markets as “pre-loved” and she enjoys dressing them in new outfits to suit each particular doll.
So it just goes to show that you never know what delights are hiding in these small towns. We enjoyed our visit to Waieka Country gardens, and the ladies in particular loved looking at the dolls. There was plenty of remarks such as, “I used to have one of those”, and we wandered around the four rooms housing Joy’s expanding doll collection.