In the hurly-burly of metropolitan Auckland life and with the pressure on time and money, the establishment, development and maintenance of parks is usually left to regional and local councils.
But there are a number of garden gems around Auckland: some well-known and popular, private gardens - a few quite large and regularly visited, mainly by gardening enthusiasts.
One special gem, not quite as well known, is a 10-acre paradise-in-progress. It's the work of just one Auckland man, Dave Stephens - supported substantially by his partner Jackie.
Dave has dedicated the last 41 years of his life to creating a 10-acre parkland property at the top of the Albany Hill. He calls it his 200-year project.
He started from a bare and steep cattle paddock in 1979 and has since planted over 10,000 trees and shrubs, created 2.5 kms of pathways and developed an interwoven tapestry of garden themes and schemes at his property called EIREVER. Reverse the letters of the name and it spells ‘reverie’ – a dream. Dave is offering his dream to future generations. His park will survive well beyond his own life-span.
The combined effect of countless hours of repetitive and onerous work has resulted in a fabulous, seasonally spectacular and generally awe-inspiring landscape.
To enhance the natural beauty of the property, Dave has introduced an ever-increasing range of artefacts and features to give visitors delightful focal points as they wander around. Some of the garden art is Dave and partner Jackie's own work.
Tours are available for small groups (minimum 10) by arrangement, and the property is suitable for various gatherings and events.
21 years ago, Dave Stephens opened his parkland as the Pets' Garden of Remembrance. The graves are all discreetly marked with a flat stone and nameplate and blend beautifully with the rest of the park. The Pets’ Garden of Remembrance provides income to help maintain the park and is a much sought-after service for pet owners wanting a tranquil last resting place for their best mates.