Oruawharo is surrounded by 17 hectares, (40 acres) of gardens, parkland, trees and fields, much of it bearing the legacy of original owner Sydney Johnston.
An avid arborist, he replicated the parklike landscape he’d seen around stately English homes, planting thousands of trees in a woodland behind the house. As well as the often almost unique examples of exotic species he collected, the area includes trees notable for having been planted by some of the political and society leaders who were frequent guests at Oruawharo in Johnston’s time. Others were planted to commemorate special occasions such as Dominion Centennial Day, people like Baden Powell or events held at Oruawharo such as the military camp during World War I.
In one of their most ambitious projects so far, current owners Peter and Dianne Harris have embarked on restoration of the grounds to their early splendour. Cleared of undergrowth the hillside woodland once again reveals numerous fine specimen trees such as elm and sequoia, and makes a fine place to wander.
Two original sequoias shade the restored, garden-surrounded croquet lawn beside the house. In the fields opposite, the Harrises have replicated the large vegetable garden which would have kept Oruawharo’s original occupants self-sufficient in produce and alongside they have planted citrus and olive groves, a vineyard and oaks and hazelnuts for a truffiere.
In spring the thousands of daffodils that emerge beneath trees along the driveway and in nearby paddocks are followed by the glorious colours of peony gardens and near the house more formal border are taking shape to provide a framework for the grand architecture.