The Gardens

the gardens

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Welcome to Aston Norwood Gardens.  We hope you enjoy experiencing the gardens as much as we have enjoyed creating them.  Twenty-two years ago, our gardens started as bare paddocks with only a few trees.  Now, our gardens have come of age with a real sense of maturity. Loosely based on a Japanese garden theme, there are landscape and water features with thousands of flowering cherries, maples, rhododendrons, azaleas, and camellias. The gardens are a delight to explore.

1. Maze Garden: This originally started its life as a rose garden but after a few seasons of persevering, we gave into nature and restored the garden to what you see today.  Planted in this garden is the plant Nandina which remains colourful all year round. Around the top of this garden by the rock wall, there are miniature roses called The Fairy, with a few other standard roses thrown in for good measure. The Buxus hedging gives this garden it’s formal feel.

2. Top Pond: This pond is a central feature of the waterfall. The water gets pumped from the bottom pond into the top pond thus creating the flow for the waterfall. Around the top pond there are predominantly Succulents growing. Gracing two corners of the pond is a Conifer which we originally wanted to plant all around the pond.  That was until we saw what it grows to and so we just settled on two! The top pond is home to many a tadpole that migrates to the bottom pond in the summer. Down the grass path you will find a rock seat where you can sit, relax and overlook the pond.

3. Rock Bridge: This bridge spans the top pond and the waterfall. A great spot for a photo whether it is to the right with the pond as a backdrop, or the left with the waterfall and Waterfall Garden as a background.

4. Camellia Garden: This garden has a variety of Camellias and a seat at the end of the grass path. Planted under the Camellias are Azalea Red Wings and along the edge of the garden is Loropetalum.

5. Hedgerow Lookout: From here you can look past the waterfall to the gardens below. A hedge of Camellias surrounds the seat, which then leads into a wonderful hedging plant called Escalonia. With the hedge for shelter, the lovely backdrop of the Camellias, the view of the hills and the peacefulness of the surroundings, this spot is excellent to sit and relax with a book and a cuppa from the café!

6. Rhododendron Lookout: The bank ahead of you has been planted with a variety of Rhododendrons.  These were planted in 1997.  In 2001 more Rhododendrons were planted to mark Mark’s 40th birthday as the only thing he wanted for his birthday that year was rhododendrons!

7. Willow Lane: Willows planted along the riverbank creates a picturesque, relaxing spot so spend as long as you like taking in the atmosphere here before returning to the main path. The stream meanders throughout the property and you will come across it several times on your walk.

8. Waterfall Hangout: Either side of the Waterfall is a seat so you can relax and enjoy the sound of the waterfall. Cherries (Prunus Awanui) surround the bottom pond. The Oamaru Sculpture is called Lovers. This is an appropriate name as getting married in front of the waterfall is one of our most popular spots.

9. Brett’s Garden: Here you will find a Succulent Rock Feature while on your left you will find a Topiaried Pittosporum making its way out of a Manicured Hedge! Our first gardener, Ian, created this. This garden is in memory of Mark’s brother, Brett.  Brett spent many hours working in the garden and this garden is a tribute to his life.  At the end of this path is a seat surrounded by Camellias and Pieris.

10. Bird’s Way: Head up this path, sit on the seat and quietly take some time to see if any bird life comes to the bird feeders.  At first there was no bird life here. Currently, there are Waxeyes, Starlings, Sparrows, Herons, Hawks, Magpies, Lorikeets and three sets of Kereru, and Tuis (when the Cherries are in blossom).

11. Waterfall Garden: The path that takes you to the Waterfall Garden is known as Bridal Walk. This is where the bride walks to make her entrance over to her groom waiting on the grassy verge with the waterfall as a backdrop. The Weeping Willows look so graceful reflecting their beauty in the pond. There is a chance to have a rest here and make use of the seat enjoying the views around you. If the waterfall is not working then please push the button and you will see it working at its best in twenty minutes time.

12. Conifer Hill: This hill took two days to reshape so that we could access it.  Originally, when we first planted this, the left was planted with Conifers that have now been replaced by rhododendrons. Although there are not many conifers left, the hill still retains its name as Conifer Hill.

13. Hilltop Rest: At the top of this small hill is an area to sit and relax. From here you can look back towards the Waterfall. This area is surrounded by Azaleas that have been pruned to form a low growing hedge.

14. Bush Trail: This path takes you through the established trees and shows how quickly the garden can change from walking along an open path to now feeling you are in a forest. This area has Pungas and Rhododendron vireya Rob’s Favourite planted under the tree cover, which protects it from the frost.

15. Lower Lawn Archery: The stream that you saw in Willow Lane meanders throughout this area.  The curving bank on the other side of the stream is planted predominantly with Deciduous Trees.

The planting along the river’s edge which forms a low hedge, are deciduous but do not completely let go of their old leaves until their new leaves appear.  They therefore have the effect of looking as if they are not alive! The name of this tree is Fagus Sylvatica.

You will see a garden that has been cleared out substantially, with views now of the Natural Spring with Pungas and Camellias gracing this area.  Carry on around this path or walk across the grass and sit under the glorious London Plane tree.

In the middle of the lawn area you will see two green boards.  This is where you can do archery, under supervision of course! Rhododendrons have been planted along the inside of this path as they enjoy the conditions in this part of the gardens.  The trees that are planted in between the Rhododendrons are called Melia Azeradach or more commonly referred to as the Bean Tree.

A Picea, which is a very slow growing tree can also be found in this area. Can you work out how old this tree is?

As you make your way to Cherry Lane you will pass by Brett’s Garden on your left, and Bird’s Way on your right. Both these gardens have been planted with Buxus Variegata to create a two toned hedge.

16. Cherry Lane: During Cherry Blossom Festival (September-October) a spectacular display of blossom can be seen down this Lane.

On the left of Cherry Lane is the Daffodil Dell which has a terrific display of Daffodils when in flower.

The bank to your left is covered with Deciduous Trees which come into their own once the Cherry Trees have finished flowering.  Below this bank is a flow of water that comes from the bottom pond and joins back up with the river.  Keeping the water flowing throughout the property ensures there is no stagnant water areas.

Ahead of you now you will see the first of two bridges on the property. This is a great place to play Poohsticks if you are with children or if you are young at heart.  This bridge opens up the gardens on the other side of the stream. You will notice that the trees are not as well established here as they are on the side you have just seen. However, this side of the property is very exciting and is developing quickly, while also allowing spectacular views of the garden.

17. Golden Elm Parade: These Golden Elm trees are glorious when draped in their golden leaves, giving plenty of shade during the summer months. To the right along the stream’s edge, you will see some of our White Cherry Trees.  More Rhododendrons have been planted here along with Hydrangeas.  The Oamaru Stone sculpture you see here is called Trinity.

As you continue up this hill on the right you will pass our version of One Tree Hill. On your left is our Western boundary, Cupressus underplanted with Hydrangeas. Continue past One Tree Hill and then turn to your right. The Photinina Red Robin, commonly used as a hedging plant, has been left to grow rampant introducing all year colour into a picturesque setting.  Another restful spot with the soothing sound of the water close by.

Have a rest here and take a deep breath before you stride up to Lookout Point. On your way up you will see to your left some Rhododendrons that are trying to do their best in the rocky conditions.

18. Lookout Point: The Cupressus Leylandi sets a lovely backdrop all the way across this top area, separating this area from more land on the other side which we will develop over time. As you reach Lookout Point on your right, take a few deep breaths, and enjoy the view.  From here you can trace the steps that got you this far.  This view gives you an overall picture of what has been achieved over the years.

19. Cyprus Boulevard: Walking along here you gain a different perspective of the view each time you look to your right.  The Cyprus Tree has over time created the path you are walking on while also creating a canopy to walk under. It is a lovely, serene place to walk.

20. Open Field: Duck through the hedge and you can see a flat bit of land planted with Green and Copper Beech (Fagus Sylvatica) and a stand of Cherry Trees. This area takes you to the furtherest boundary and has been known as a picnic spot especially during the Cherry Blossom Festival.

21. Upper Cherry Tree Lane: On the top flat you will notice Cherry Trees planted on either side of the path. During the beginning of spring these Cherry Trees put on a spectacular display. At the edge of the bank Rhododendrons are planted which have strikingly beautiful flowers which can be seen from late August to late September.

On your way to Rhododendron Dell you will pass over a little waterfall and to the right you will see a Cabbage Tree. This was one of only a few trees standing when we bought the land in 1994 and our digger driver Les, ensured its survival.

Take care down the steps as you make your way to the entrance to the Rhododendron Dell where you can walk amongst the Rhododendrons.

22. Rhododendron Dell: When the bank of Rhododendrons was first planted it seemed that there were not enough here for the area but over time they have grown to take up their fair share of space.

23. Rising High: During the winter months this area is prone to flooding and so the plants need to be hardy to cope with the conditions. The pipe you see running across the stream is the pipe that feeds the bottom pond with water from the stream. The point at which the water comes into the pipe is higher than the bottom pond and thus gravity allows us to fill the pond.

The path leading to the second bridge is flanked on either side by more Cherry Trees. At each end of the bridge a Wisteria has been planted to train over it.  We have also planted Maples in this area. As you come across the bridge you will see a lovely watering hole at the bottom of the cliff. Once over the bridge you can access the stream to your left.

The Corokia Hedge leads to Beechtree Haven, another popular spot for weddings.

24. Beechtree Haven: Take a well-deserved rest on another rock seat and admire the hedge which graces the lawn area, while looking ahead of you is an array of Camellias flanked by Cherries. With the sound of the water, the peacefulness of the surrounds and the wonderful setting, be sure to rest for only a little while otherwise we may find you here asleep!

Heading up the hill, past Camellias and Loropetalum, you come across a tranquil lawn area to your right.

25. Oak Green: Wander in here and take a moment to sit and overlook the stream one more time and take one last look at the Rhododendron Dell before making your way back up the hill.

To your left you will see some wires running between the trees.  The Cupressus Leylandi have had their bottom branches pruned and Clematis has been planted at the base of the trees with the idea to train them along the wire.  In years to come this will be an amazing display of colour.  At the moment you can look through this to see the Woodlands Area which has been set up as a nursery. Plants that you have seen on your walk can be bought from here.

26. Premier Camellia: Just behind this sign you can see the first ever shrub planted in the gardens. It was a Camellia. This happened in 1994 when Fiona was pregnant with Christopher, who now, along with his brother Samuel, has developed and runs the nursery and Garden Centre.

27. Fiona’s Garden: From Pieris to Rhododendron, Camellia to Choysia Ternata, this garden reflects the favourite plants of Fiona.   Nandina Pygmea frame this garden with Fiona’s all-time favourite Lily of the Valley (Pieris) making a beautiful display all year round. Another feature of this garden is the lovely rock seat set into where it meets the top pond.

28. Bus Shelter: This seat was planted with Conifers surrounding it and over the years it has been trimmed and pruned and shaped into what you see today. It is a great spot for a photo!

As you pass the Buxus Hedge which frames the Lawn Oasis garden below the Remutaka Deck, with seats for a rest if you need so, you will see the stairs to your left.

29. Stairs to Gardening Heaven: Heading down these stairs takes you to where the business end of the gardens happens. It is here where the plants are grown and nurtured before going to the garden centre for sale.

30. Nursery: Feel free to browse through the nursery and if there is anything that catches your eye don’t hesitate to ask one of the staff who will be more than happy to help you.

31. Garden Centre: Your walk concludes at the Garden Centre where you will be able to find many of the plants that you saw on the walk. If you have questions re your garden and would like ideas just ask us and we can suggest what time and experience has taught us will work well. Most of our plants are grown here and so they are hardened to the conditions and more likely to survive in your garden. We love what we do and hope you also will be enthused into planting and creating wonderful landscapes. Visit our website:

Heading across the bridge from the Garden Centre will take you to the Aston NorwoodCafé for a well earned and deserved drink and something to eat!

32. Cafe: As you enter the café your tastebuds will be treated to a great array of food and drinks. To your right you will find the Rimutaka Room used for high teas and functions which can be booked with the staff. The beautiful Gatsby Room, used for weddings and large functions can be seen to the left past the toilets. Skeet shooting, Archery, Team Building are a few of the activities available and if you have any queries for functions or activities be sure to visit the web page or speak to any of the staff.

We trust you have enjoyed your walk as much as we have enjoyed developing the gardens for your enjoyment, and we hope to see you return with your friends. We would love to hear from you and feel free to post any pictures you may have taken, on our facebook page, our website and trip advisor.

Anything else we can help with? Please call Fiona Rammell – 027 444 9041

Garden Activities


Eels have taken up residence in the bottom pond. They will lift their heads out of the water to get their dinner. Food can be purchased in the café. The eels make this their home in every month that has an “r” in it!

When the gardens were first established, there was no bird life around.  As trees grew, a variety of birds became a part of the gardens.  Currently, there are waxeyes, starlings, sparrows, herons, hawks, magpies, lorikeets and three sets of wood pigeons, and tuis (when the cherries are in blossom).

Gardens Ready for Planting

In order to get the land ready for planting, an amazing man named Les, was employed to re-shape the land where necessary and to put all the walking tracks in.  Les had an uncanny ability to translate what Mark told him and showed him, into reality.  With the gardens now ready for planting, plants were purchased and the gardens began to take shape. Jean, Mark’s mother, was a great support to Mark in the choice of plants for the gardens.

To begin with, there was so much bare ground that some areas ended up being over-planted.  Over the last few years, these areas have been revamped with some of the earlier plants being cut out and replaced by more suitable specimens.



A Little History


In 1994, a young couple, Mark and Fiona Rammell, were shown a piece of land that an employee of theirs had purchased at Kaitoke.  They were told that they had the chance to buy the land they were currently walking over, or the piece next door.  Mark and Fiona were very taken with what they saw and decided to take a look at the plot next door that was still for sale.  As the contour of the land leant itself to having different areas for different gardens, and since gardening was in Mark’s blood, they decided to purchase the land.  Each night, from then on, Mark would sit at his drawing board, designing the gardens.


A feature of the gardens has always been the wonderful flowering cherries.  Although the blossom is not out for much of the year, the spectacular showing is well worth the wait and enjoyed by many.  It is something not to be missed.  The gardens have been used for many weddings and photographs. Seats have been placed strategically throughout the gardens, and bird feeders put in place to attract the bird life.

The gardens are constantly evolving with new work being undertaken on a regular basis along with general maintenance.  Working with nature and the elements ensures that your work is never completed as our gardener, Bill, has found out. As you wander around the gardens, Bill is always available for a chat. From the road it is hard to imagine the vista of gardens that await you.

The gardens have been described by many as Wellington’s best kept secret. Come and enjoy these gardens, spread the word and become part of their ongoing history.

The gardens have been named in memory of the respective places in the UK, where Mark’s parents, Colin and Jean lived.