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  The Garden at French Farm - Nancy Tichborne's Watercolour World

Address104 French Farm Valley Road RD 2 Akaroa 7582. An hour and a bit’s drive from Christchurch. And 15 minutes from the delightful seaside town of Akaroa.
Privately owned or publicPrivate
PhonePh/Fax: 03 304 5678
Fax03 304 5708
Contact PersonBryan & Nancy Tichborne
HoursVisits by prior appointment only. Garden and studio visits limited to groups of 30 maximum, as our studio will not take any more than this. 10am to 5pm - September to April inclusive.
Garden SizeFour hectare (eleven acres) . Allow one hour each for the studio & garden approximately.
PriceA charge of $10 per head for unguided individuals/small groups. $15 per head for groups (minimum 10, maximum 30) - 2 hour programme - studio talk & guided walk round the garden.
Brochure Available?No
Food AvailableOur next door neighbours - French Farm Winery Restaurant do excellent lunches.
Cafe/Restaurant available?No
SeatingYes. There are several areas suitable for picnics and general 'rest and recuperation'.
PicnicsThere are several areas suitable for picnics and general rest and recuperation.
Wheelchair AccessLimited areas
Dogs AllowedStrictly on a leash.
Children AllowedFree - but must be well supervised.
AccommodationNo but plenty nearby
Plant/Other Sales2010 is Nancy and Bryan Tichborne's 25th & last year in calendar producing and publishing. Their business - the New Zealand Calendar Company Limited is a small but thriving operation. Some of their own products will still be available for sale in the studio.
Guided ToursYes
Function center?No
Other FacilitiesThere is a wealth of wildlife on the property... Bird life includes bellbirds, kereru (native pigeons), fantails, kingfishers, pukeko, grey warblers, harrier hawks, shining cuckoos, mallard ducks, Paradise shelducks, shags, grey herons, Californian quail etc.

The property includes two “follies” - the Macrocarpa House and the African Hut, plus some other quirky attractions.

We are 40 minutes from Fisherman's Bay Garden owned by Jill & Richard Simpson.


The Garden

The property had been part of a large cattle and sheep farm, having been browsed by stock for over 100 years. In 2003 two bush areas totalling around one hectare were put into Queen Elizabeth II covenants. Over 100 different native plants were recorded in those two relatively small areas.

The bush includes many splendid native trees - including kahikatea, matai, young totara, hoheria, mahoe etc plus some huge kowhai and kanuka. The most significant tree though must be the one and only mature pokaka. Botanists estimate it is between 200 and 300 years old and think it may be the largest specimen of its type in Banks Peninsula, if not the whole country. The Tichbornes recently located a juvenile pokaka, fascinating in its wide variety of leaf shapes and sizes.

Nancy & Bryan are developing a big garden around the house and bordering the bush and stream. They have planted a large number of trees, both native and exotic, throughout the property.
New Zealand Gardens Trust have named The Garden at French Farm a Garden of Significance in 2011.

Nancy's aim is to tie in the ornamental garden (with its exotics) into the wider landscape - with its magnificent backdrop of native bush and surrounding hills. An ongoing creation which she treats very much like a painting in progress!

The Gardener

Nancy Tichborne is a New Zealand watercolour artist with an international following. She received a scholarship to train at the St Martin's School of Art in London and has lived and worked in Great Britain and Hong Kong. Back in New Zealand she spent several happy years working as a landscape designer. In 1994 the Tichborne's moved, from Rotorua to the Akaroa area, where Nancy’s forebears on two sides had settled in the 1850’s. She had always wanted to return to the area eventually. One ancestor, John Pavitt, was an early saw miller in Robinson’s Bay and another, Daniel Watkins, was the first English doctor in Akaroa. A great-grandfather, Stephen Watkins, was an Akaroa artist and horticulturist and in fact at one stage taught art at Mr Baker’s School at French Farm. Bryan has spent many hours attacking blackberry, native stinging nettle (onga onga) and the unpalatable-to-stock Muehlenbeckia complexa vine. Once the stock were removed, regeneration started immediately - a rewarding and heartening thing to see! It is now hard to recall how bare some areas of the property were. In 2007, Nancy was appointed Patron of Watercolour New Zealand... a post she was honoured to accept.
Click on any image below to enlarge
Nancy at work in her studio
The Garden at French Farm
One of the three DVDs for sale
Nancy's aim is to tie in the ornamental garden (with its exotics) into the wider landscape - with its magnificent backdrop of native bush and surrounding hills. An ongoing creation which she treats very much like a painting in progress!
Waterlily print
'Tanes Eyebrows' - a painting depicting nearby Birdlings Flat
'White Tree Paeony' limited print
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