Pepped Warbeck Garden

Set in the rolling farmland of the Ohariu Valley on the outskirts of Wellington is the Pepped Warbeck Garden. The area well known for its rural life style blocks is just 20 minutes from Wellington city. This garden is one of our favourite little urban oases and our friends Fee and David always make us feel right at home with their wonderful hosted garden lunches! Guests on our World of Wearable Art Awards and Wairarapa Wandering tours will vouch for that!

History of Pepped Warbeck

There are many fascinating and unique things about this garden including its name. Pepped Warbeck Garden was created from family member’s initials back in 1976 when Fee and David Weaver moved to New Zealand after five years in Calcutta, India. With five small children under the age of six they bought the property, sight unseen and began their new lives back in New Zealand.

Fee says she has always been passionate about gardening. “When the two youngest, twins, started playschool I didn’t do the housework, instead I couldn’t wait to get outside into the garden,” she says, recalling the first tree she ever bought, a weeping silver pear tree. Some forty years on Fee and David’s garden has evolved.

With their youngsters having flown the nest, Fee and David decided to build a new home on the property in 2007. With space not a problem they moved the building platform away from the original homestead to a new north facing site with all day sun. They then set about transforming the garden to compliment the contemporary style of architecture they had chosen for their new home.

About Pepped Warbeck

The garden has many facets not obvious at first sight, including a ‘wedding’ area also in the valley looking back towards the top pond and summerhouse. It’s a very special place for the Weaver family as both of their daughters got married there. The expansive flat lawn is big enough for a small concert, although Fee says with Wellington’s unpredictable weather she’s not prepared to take the risk.

Large windows now over-look the extensive lawns that sweep down to five interconnecting ponds, referred to by Fee as the ‘bog garden’. From their home, majestic wide steps bordered with clipped hedges take you down to the water where the bog area is planted with many grasses including the beautiful yellow-green tinged carex secta, candelabra primulas, stunning blue bog irises, hostas and gunnera.

Pepped Warback Garden is the only privately owned New Zealand Gardens Trust Garden of Significance in the Wellington area.

Highlights of the Garden

The garden is magnificent all year round and is a riot of colour from October through March. However, the best viewing time in Fee’s opinion is November when the deciduous trees are in full leaf and the hostas and grasses are at their best. Flourishing perennials like the wakendorfia with its ribbed leaves and orange flowers and the self-seeding ligularia are also prolific. A steep bank on the far side of the bog garden is planted with many specimen trees and shrubs including snowflake hydrangeas with their delicate white flower that ages to a rosy pink and many varieties of rhododendrons.

With an ever changing garden, Fee says, ‘Nothing excites me more than a budding rhody or aging snowflake.’

As the summer days shorten the bog irises and day lilies appear before autumn takes hold with much of the foliage taking on the red and yellow hues of fall, especially the maples, forest pansy trees and Japanese anemones.

Fee describes the garden as natural and peaceful and says she enjoys working in it because it’s so rewarding. With gardening in her blood she not only relishes the nurturing of plants, but also propagates a variety of unusual plants for sale.

“I’m a plantaholic and a sucker for anything that’s a bit different,” she says.

Her paper bark birch is a spectacular example of ‘unusual’. The tree with its pink bark sheds great chunks, peeling off like paper layers from the trunk. Another unusual specimen is Aristea Major, a little similar to an iris. In spring the tall spikes grow in clusters with intense blue flowers and tall green sword-like leaves providing a great show.

“One gardener avoids all the disputes!”

While Fee’s husband David has been instrumental in shaping the garden, particularly with much of the hard landscaping including walls and bridges, Fee is adamant you only need one gardener. “One gardener avoids all the disputes,” she says laughing. However, she acknowledges the garden wouldn’t be what it is today without David.

Location and Directions

Pepped Warbeck Garden is located in Wellington near the suburb of Johnsonville, approximately 50 minutes from Wellington airport.

From Johnsonville leave by Bassett Road.
Turn in to Ironside Road (opposite St. John’s Church).
Turn left in to Ohariu Road towards Makara.
Turn right in to Ohariu Valley Road Pepped Warbeck is signed on your right.

Pepped Warbeck Contact Details and Address

654 Ohariu Valley Road, Johnsonville
Phone: 04 478 7586

Opening hours and Facilities

Pepped Warbeck Garden is open from October through April by appointment only from 10am – 5pm.
Facilities on the property include parking and toilets.

Lunches, morning and afternoon teas are available by arrangement and large groups are most welcome, but bookings are essential.

A variety of plants are for sale.

As this is a private garden, it may not be possible to visit on your preferred date and time. The best way to ensure you get in to see Pepped Warbeck is to jump on one of our small group escapes!

Tours You'll Love

Wairarapa Wandering 7 Day Tour

Three nights at Brackenridge Estate, home hosted lunches in the Wairarapa and the final night on the lakeside at Taupo.
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