As far as Jade Temepara is concerned, feeding ourselves sustainably is a priority. The young mother of five is committed to helping others learn the basic gardening skills she fears have become lost to a generation of New Zealanders.
Jade’s journey to bring us all back to earth began with the Christchurch earthquake. Food shortages in the wake of the disaster drove her to start her acclaimed ‘Hand over a Hundy’ initiative where new gardeners are given a helping hand plus $100 to get underway with feeding their families from their gardens.
“In an uncertain world and with many families struggling to afford to buy food, learning how to create a year-round supply from the garden is a practical way to take charge of your own wellbeing,” says Jade. “My vision is to create liveable, edible gardens where people share meals and plants, and at the same time build a community.”
Jade’s business, Tipu Design, places emphasis not only on visual appeal, but also on making the most of garden spaces to produce food. In helping others to grow their own fruit and vegetables, Jade imparts knowledge handed down from her grandparents and generations past. She’s also enthusiastic about the modern fruit varieties that allow us to grow more fruit than ever in a small space. “New varieties of dwarf fruit trees, which take up little space are great for urban fruit orchards. They can be grown in pots too,” she notes.
This February Jade returned to the Ellerslie International Flower Show for a second time. Her ‘Perennial Paradise’ garden was all about feeding, healing and enhancing family life. The centrepiece of Jade’s show garden was a recycled shipping container converted into compact accommodation. Complete with kitchen, living/bedroom and bathroom, it featured eco products and grey water garden recycling. Planted around it were medicinal herbs as well as fruiting hedges and dwarf fruit trees supplied by Waimea Nurseries. In the compact ten by ten metre space Jade demonstrated how we can use a small section to the maximum, right down to a beehive for fruit pollination.
One of Jade’s tricks was to make the most of vertical space. “Many fruit trees can be grown flat against a wall, which is not only highly productive but looks amazing too!” she says, adding “Blueberries, blackcurrants, citrus and feijoas make fantastic edible hedges”.
Grapes are another productive yet highly decorative covering for walls, fences and pergolas. One of Jade’s favourites is ‘juicy blue- black ‘Schuyler’. “Blackberries and raspberries are great in small gardens because they can be grown against a wall or even in a barrel.” Thornless ‘Black Satin’ is a favourite blackberry that produces large, juicy berries on non- suckering canes. Raspberry ‘Heritage’ is a good one for autumn harvest and it can be grown without a support structure. As groundcover, Jade rates the American Cranberry ‘Crowley’ which is very cold hardy and tolerates wet soil.
Trimmed to shape, citrus trees can be used as formal accents or as a mini avenue flanking an entranceway. In her recent show garden Jade planted standard Meyer lemons, the easiest lemon tree to grow in cooler climates. She also chose Dwarf Nectarine ‘Garden Delight’ and Dwarf Peach ‘Garden Lady’. “These fantastic little trees produce a huge amount of fruit in a small space,” says Jade.
As a mother with small children she is also delighted with Waimea Nurseries’ latest ‘Thumbelina’ apples, small trees that produce loads of appealing bite sized apples. They’re pretty in spring too, with pink and white blossom.
Winter is the main season for planting fruit trees.
'Perennial Paradise' Jade's garden at the 2014 Ellerslie International Flower Show
Dwarf Nectarine 'Garden Delight'