Are the best gardens grown or inherited? Would you prefer to add your personal touches to evolve someone else’s vision, or a blank canvas to create something entirely your own?
There’s obviously no right answer and not everyone has the opportunity to start from scratch. But for Bruce Batten, finding a bare section to transform into his garden vision was an essential part of his return to New Zealand, with his wife Sharon, after decades living in the UK.
The couple eventually found their perfect blank canvas on half a hectare of land surrounding a brand new modern home in the small settlement of Ōhau, 7km out of Levin in the prime growing region of Horowhenua.
Though Bruce was born and raised in the region, he wasn’t set on settling back there. He and Sharon, a native of Northern Ireland, spent some time house-sitting around the country on their arrival in New Zealand, weighing up their options of where to put down roots. During a visit to Bruce’s brother in Foxton, the couple ventured out to look at properties around the region and hit the jackpot.
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“I never thought I’d end up living in Ōhau, but this property was exactly what we were looking for,” says Bruce, who is a qualified landscape gardener and garden designer. “I had decided that when we came to retire back in New