Village News

Green fingers and a kaleidoscope of colour

21 March 2023

Marianne McRae in one of the Pinesong gardens she manages

Strolling the sprawling grounds of West Auckland’s Pinesong Village is like stepping through the pages of NZ Gardener magazine. Colour, vibrancy, and lush growth are the fundamental ingredients to the village’s picturesque gardens, carefully curated with the help of resident Marianne McRae.

“When I first moved to Pinesong seven years ago, I was asked if I would help with the garden at the front entrance of the village. They had bought a fountain but didn’t know what to do with it.

I took that small garden patch on, and my work has literally grown from there.”

Designing, creating, and maintaining up to five gardens across the village’s eight hectares, is no easy feat, but is a challenge Marianne enjoys.

“Every morning I start my day with a swim at 4am, followed by breakfast, and then I’m out the door and in the garden all day.”

“It can be tiring, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. I enjoy the beauty in gardening and the tranquillity that comes with being in nature. Having a small helping hand in creating life and watching it flourish is like being at one with the universe.”

Creating beautiful features across vast open spaces has been a lifelong passion for the retired teacher.

“I’ve always enjoyed gardening and have incorporated it into every part of my life. Even when I was teaching, I would get the kids involved with the school gardens. It was wonderful to see them get as much out of it as I did, too.”

Prior to moving to Pinesong, Marianne spent more than a decade creating a tropical paradise right on the doorstep of her architecturally designed Titirangi home.

“When I bought my Japanese style cottage in 2000, I had a third of an acre of wilderness to play with. I transformed it bit by bit and got it to a point where people actually wanted to come and see it.”

With waterfalls, fishponds, rock steps, and hundreds of plants and even more colourful blooms planted throughout, Marianne’s garden attracted busloads of admirers.

“I was really surprised when I was first asked to show my garden. I didn’t think it was good enough. But they kept coming year on year.”

Despite the wide-spread attraction and years of dedication and hard work, downsizing to a smaller village garden was an easy decision for Marianne.

“It’s much more manageable now, I can take on as much or as little as I like around the village and I still have the creative freedom to introduce lots of colour.

It gives me a lot of pleasure. I think it gives others pleasure too.”

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