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private garden

Blue House Amberley

35 Willowside Place, Amberley, New Zealand


This is a garden where strong design and a plant woman’s passion go hand in hand. It is a garden that invites you to wander, explore and relax, with plenty of places to sit, and new delights around every corner.
Our wide grass paths take you from intimate and cool shade gardens, to sweeps of tussocks and prairie flowers, and through Mediterranean-inspired gravel gardens, featuring stunning succulents and aloes. From generous sunny borders filled with unusual and difficult-to-source perennials to an iris-filled damp garden.
We have a gorgeous no-mow meadow, vineyard and charming and productive vegetable garden. Tiny paths meander through arched hedges and down to the creek. There is a warm and sheltered pergola area for you to enjoy the garden. You cannot tell from the healthy and lush planting, but we are almost exclusively a summer-dry garden (no irrigation apart from rainfall). We achieve this through quite specialised planting and cultivation techniques, including no-dig, bare rooting of plants, no soil amendments and woodchip mulch among other things. We are always happy to chat with visitors about our unique gardening techniques. But if this doesn’t interest you, the garden is a stunning example of planting design, which is constantly evolving.

You can follow the garden on face book Blue House Amberley, or
Instagram bluehouse_amberley


The Gardener

Jenny Cooper is one of New Zealand’s best-known illustrators of books for children. She works from home, which is how she maintains such a large and complex garden. This garden is only 9 years old but the excellent sandy loam has created remarkable growth in this short time. Jenny practises ‘slow’ gardening, or summer-dry  gardening, trying to match the planting choices and design to this low rainfall environment. This has led to an enormous and experimental plant palette, as Jenny learns how to create a beautiful garden with limited time and rainfall.
Chris works as a landscaper and builder and Jenny is forever grateful for his input into the now-finished house and the various garden projects.

Garden Size

Our garden is 4600 m2 or 1 ¼ acres. Depending on your interest in gardens, allow from 1 – 2 hours. Jenny takes time to chat with every visitor.

Other Facilities

The Hurunui District has many attractions, including wineries, and cycle tracks, and Iron Ridge Quarry on this site is only 15 minutes up the road  https://gardenstovisit.co.nz/private-gardens/iron-ridge-quarry-culpture-park/. Amberley has a great Saturday farmer’s market and many fabulous cafes such as The Little Vintage. Café, The Paris café and The Nor’Wester and wonderful shops such as Ruby Six.



  • Price
    $15 per person.
  • Parking
    Parking is on the street. There is parking before our gate, and much more parking after the gate, on the left hand side of the road, fronting the property.
  • Wheelchair Access
    Much of the property is wheelchair accessible. Although we are largely a flat property, we do have subtle level changes.
  • Dogs allowed?
    Dogs on a lead are welcome.
  • Food available?
    ’We offer tea and coffee to larger groups by arrangement.
  • Picnics
    Picnics are welcome.
  • Children allowed?
    Children are welcome but must be supervised as we have a creek.
  • Toilets?
    A toilet is available in the house when you have pre-booked tea/ coffee/food.
  • Seating
    Ample seats throughout the garden.
  • Plants/Sales
    Home producers/vegetable gardens.
  • Guided Tours
    A guided tour is available by arrangement. We give a map of the garden to every visitor, with notes about our planting style and cultivation notes.


35 Willowside Place, Amberley, New Zealand