In My Backyard: The beauty of Bromeliads

Bev and Lester’s journey with bromeliads began nearly 30 years ago when Lester spotted a Tillandsia usenoides (Spanish Moss) growing on a pinecone. Fascinated by it, the couple joined the Bromeliad Society of New Zealand in 1995 to learn more, and now run a bromeliad and air plant nursery in Pakuranga. Bev Ching tells us how her garden bloomed into a green oasis.

“It wasn’t long before we were hooked and looking to move house where we could grow more bromeliads. We found a 1/2 acre flat section in Pakuranga with a large glasshouse (to Lester’s delight), also a large structure that had previously been an aviary, it didn’t take long for that to be changed into a shade house, with benches etc established.

Next, we focussed on the garden. First, we planted queen palms, manuka and kowhai to give us the filtered light to grow bromeliads. Eventually the garden took the shape it is today. My love for other trees and shrubs like magnolia, rhododendron, azalea and vireya rhododendron have been planted around the garden pathways.

We now have five shade houses, with different bromeliad genera in each (well mostly), housing our own collections of tillandsia’s and potted plants. One was solely Lester’s for his staghorn ferns, but I asked nicely if he would put up some rails for my hanging plants. This is where we spend a lot of our time.

Our garden, well, it’s just a garden. I have enough to keep me busy. Our time is spent mostly with the plants. I always spend part of the time in the garden working plot by plot. Like all gardens there is always tidying up to be done.

Every three to four years I get that extra energy and change the garden around, with different coloured bromeliads, almost like changing annuals each year, otherwise I feel the garden always looks the same. That is the beauty of bromeliads, they don’t mind the change of position, so long as the conditions are right. It is nice to share the space with the native birds.

We enjoy sharing the garden with others, meeting new people. The garden is always peaceful to come home to.”

Related: In my backyard: A touch of Italy