A Taranaki gardening fulfilling a promise to mum

This year will be Faye Phipps’ fourth year running, opening her garden up during the Taranaki Fringe Garden Festival.

ANDY MACDONALD/Stuff

This year will be Faye Phipps’ fourth year running, opening her garden up during the Taranaki Fringe Garden Festival.

There’s not much that slows Faye Phipps down.

Even breaking her back and being told by a surgeon she wouldn’t continue farming or gardening only caused a slight pause in her busy life.

She’s a salt of the earth genuine good person who’s passionate about life, her family and her garden.

Faye runs the Lepperton beef farm that she shares with husband Ivan, who these days drives trucks not so much tractors, and she also looks after her brood of grandchildren who all live nearby.

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Phipps has been getting her garden in tip-top shape for weeks, ready to welcome visitors during the festival.

ANDY MACDONALD/Stuff

Phipps has been getting her garden in tip-top shape for weeks, ready to welcome visitors during the festival.

“Our kids all live local but it wasn’t always that way. They went off, some overseas or to other parts of New Zealand, but they are back now with their own children, we’re lucky to have them all so near,” said Faye.

“We have 15 grandchildren and I looked after them all when they were little so they didn’t have to go to daycare. Christmas is big with around 25 of us and that’s what family is about, sharing that time together.”

This lady is up at 5.30am each day and is on the go from there. She’s been preparing these past weeks glossing her garden up for the Taranaki Fringe Garden Festival for her fourth year running.

The fairies are a quirky feature of the garden.

ANDY MACDONALD/Stuff

The fairies are a quirky feature of the garden.

It’s a rambling country garden that gets a teeny bit bigger each year. It’s a profusion of flowers and fun. There’s a play area for the kids, a trickling creek which tumbles through the secret garden Faye has developed, with quirky features of little fairies, or wacky wooden fishermen all hidden around the garden.

But there are also places to sit, to ponder and take in the surrounds.

“When we came here, 31 years ago, the fence was almost right up against the house so we ripped that out and made the lawn and garden beds. Our youngest was six months old and we were milking and trying to get established, we didn’t have time to do much gardening.

“I just love it but it was a real challenge then to get the time I wanted to spend in it, breaking in new ground and trying to develop it.”

There’s even a little stream running through the garden.

ANDY MACDONALD/Stuff

There’s even a little stream running through the garden.

Those early days were busy, sharemilking a jersey herd and with five children to raise.

“We went out of cows about 10 years ago, and just run beef. I run the farm a lot myself now as Ivan likes to drive trucks – big freight trucks and he goes all over the country. He was driving trucks even when we were milking too but not as often then. It’s his thing and he loves it.”

Faye was a nurse before she and Ivan married, starting her working life at the Waitara Maternity Home before going on to train at Taranaki Base Hospital.

“I love helping and looking after people. I started having weddings in the garden when I heard of a young couple that couldn’t afford a wedding so I organised one for them in our garden. We have had a lot of weddings here now, including three of our children, even converting the big barn into a reception area with fairy lights lining the roof,” said Faye.

A playground for her grandchildren add a special touch.

ANDY MACDONALD/Stuff

A playground for her grandchildren add a special touch.

Her garden is a special place, to those who have been and for those who will come for weddings and other celebrations.

Faye has dedicated flower beds to those passed, like her mother Joan, an avid gardener of Stratford.

“One of the last things Mum said to me before she died was, ‘please put your garden in the festival’.

“So here I am and I’m loving opening our garden so others can enjoy it too.”

– The article is a partnership between the Taranaki Daily News and the Taranaki Fringe Garden Festival.

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