Episode 8: Rae King
The letter of nomination for Rae says it all: "Rae is a tireless worker for this community who never seems to have a holiday. What she gives comes from a heart of gold, from a woman whose love for people is enormous. She gives of her time, her energy, and survives on a widow's pension only."
Her main 'job' is to manage two Drop-in Centres/Op Shops for those struggling in her community. They are also places for people to share their problems and seek some advice from Rae. Often goods coming in to the centres will be earmarked and given free of charge where Rae knows there's a need. She founded the first one some 20 years ago and now both centres are open Monday to Saturday. Rae works in each centre 1 or 2 days each week, opens and closes them every day, and manages a 40-strong team of volunteers.
Rae gives support to anyone who needs it, especially during times of bereavement, hardship or trouble.
She runs Ezee Meals, as Mt Maunganui does not have its own Meal-on-Wheels service. She cooks the monthly meal for the over 50s in Papamoa East; and co-ordinates with a local florist to send flowers, a card and a candle to those sick and in hospital.
Rae has been a special friend and support of solo mums and their children, having lost her own husband when her sons were only six and eight. Always there to listen - never shocked by what she hears, Rae has become a lifeline for young mothers and "Nana Rae" to their children.
Rae's house is on a busy main road. Richard Greenwood, our landscape architect opted to concentrate on the back garden, being larger and quieter. It was at that time a typical Kiwi back section, although a bit overgrown and neglected - not surprising with Rae always out helping others!
Richard decided that a "sensory garden" would be perfect for Rae as she's so full of life herself. Features for colour, scent, sight, sound, movement and touch would be brought together with a sub-tropical theme suitable for Mt Maunganui.
After some initial demolition and clearing of old sheds and trees, reconstruction began. Where the old shed had been went a top-of-the-range cedarwood hot tub. These are much deeper than spas and look incredibly stylish. To comply with council permits and to make the area safe for the many children visiting Rae, a custom-made powder-coated aluminium fence was installed around the tub. For a tropical look we laid "crunchy" limestone gravel on the ground, and added boulders and a large palm plant.
Whilst we were preparing the site for the hot tub we drilled for and installed a water bore. This would mean that Rae would not have to use metered water for her hot tub or her new irrigation system.
In order to hide another shed, and to replace the existing fencing we used brushstick panels for two sides of the garden, and bamboo panels for another, both products from Brustics which gave an instant natural tropical look to the environment.
Garden beds were marked out in sweeping curves and the space in the middle was laid with Readylawn. Paths were laid with stunning decorative concrete pavers inset with blue glass, and small pavers of the same made borders to the beds.
A gazebo was made using recycled telegraph poles and a thatched roofing kit from Brustics. Again we employed the limestone gravel underfoot, and in the centre some more concrete pavers, this time with paua shell inset. On top of these went a beautiful table made with the same concrete and paua, set onto a base of cream powder coated wrought iron, with chairs to match. It looked fantastic.
The plants were always going to be a massive feature of this garden - as Jim mentions in the programme, the most extravagant plant mix of the series. The variety was breathtaking - plants chosen carefully for structure, foliage, colour, scent, and a tropical style. Before planting we positioned a large number of local quarry boulders to give structure and a colour, which we picked up later with 3 sandstone-coloured pots. We planted bromeliads in the two taller pots, and the crucible was filled with water and water lilies - a very simple idea, but so effective. And for more detail, kenetic sculptures by Sarah Brill were skewered into the ground in groups throughout the garden. These will move in the wind for sensory effect as well as looking 'brill'!
And the icing on the cake: garden lighting throughout to make
the garden even more beautiful at night than during the day. Lights
to underlight planting, to illuminate trees, to show the way safely
around the garden. Lights around the hot tub itself, lights in the
gazebo. Not long after Rae returned home to the delights of her new
garden, night fell and the garden lights came on. It was a magical
sight. Time to get into the hot tub and drift away to the sights,
sounds and scents of Rae's tropical oasis.
Materials and suppliers
Our thanks to all of the following sponsors, without whom Rae's new garden would not have been possible:
Greenwood Design Ltd
Landformers Creative Landscaping
Horticultural Services Wanganui Ltd
Senior Tutor Landscape
Tel: 07-834-8800, ext 7919
Horticulture Education Centre
Timber and hardware:
25 MacDonald Street
Brushwood and bamboo fencing panels, gazebo roof
Brustics Brushwood Fences Ltd
PO Box 300-566
Decorative boulders and limestone gravel, basecourse
The Rock Shop
Contact: Craig Schuler
Decorative concrete pavers and table top:
55 Aviation Avenue
Contact: Lindsay Beck
Excavation and boulder placement (small excavator
suitable for tight spaces):
Catch-A-Dingo Services Ltd
Contact: Mike Anselm
Hardfill and green waste removal:
Waste Management Ltd
Garden lighting and electrical wiring for hot tub and
Guild & Spence Electrical Ltd
Contact: Ray Guild
Hot tub installation and maintenance:
The Pool Care Factory
Custom-made fencing (around hot tub):
Contact: Glenn Wilson
Water bore installation:
Superior Sprinkler Systems
Contact: Steve and Julie Klink
Irrigation system, waste pipe and pump for water
Steve Miller Rural Services Ltd
Contact: Steve Pearce
All paint and accessories for the series supplied by:
Resene Paints Ltd
Tel: 0800 RESENE
Hot tub wooden steps: Woodsman Penetrating Oil Stain -
See varieties listed and contact your local garden centre.
Milne's Plant Link Ltd
Freephone: 0508 645 637
Bourganvillea magnifica trailii
Hymenosporum gold nugget
Various assorted bromeliads
Various assorted vireyas
Various assorted hemerocallis
Gordonia yunnanensis "Moonlight Magic"
Alocasia "Jungle Green"
Athyrium "Silver Falls"
Athyrium urseulas red
Calocasia "Black Velvet"
Mandevillea "Pink Parfait"
Musa cavendish dwarf
Musa super dwarf
Heuchera "Amethyst Mist"
Heuchera "Green Spice"
Heuchera "Chocolate Ruffles"
Arthropodium "Matapouri Bay"
Phormium "Platts Black"
Pseudopanax "Cyril Watson"
Portulaca "Hot Spot"
Mulch and planting mix:
All potting mix, soils, barks and mulches for the series supplied by:
Redvale Garden Care Ltd
Turfgrass Specialists Ltd
Contact: Andrew Wallace
Wrought iron gazebo furniture:
12 Dive Crescent
Contact: Roger or Marie
Sarah Brill of Artlab
Sandstone planter and water pots:
Contact: Nigel Blackmore
Luxury accommodation for Rae and David in
(replicating the luxurious rail travel of the famous Colonial African era)
Caboose Taupo Hotel
100-102 Lake Terrace
Dining for Rae and David in Taupo:
(voted best central North Island restaurant 2002)
The Bach Limited
2 Pataka Road
And special thanks to:
Siemens Energy Services Limited in Mt Maunganui, who provided the old hardwood power poles for our gazebo
Tauranga District Council for assistance with permits & inspections