Tangled Tales

Sue Heazlewood’s stunning garden in Ohoka is the inspiration behind her two recently released books.

Sue (pictured right) had always dreamed of the type of home that she’d love to have one day – a classic country house surrounded by colourful, inviting gardens. Her dream came true when she found a property on the outskirts of Christchurch and set to work transforming it into Tangleby Gardens.

Within these gardens is a special, elaborate playhouse that Sue, a mum to six adult children, has created for her future grandchildren to enjoy.

While decorating the playhouse, she imagined a world of talking animals filling up the space with fun and laughter and possibly the smells of good food wafting across the garden.

For Sue’s passion for gardening is in equal share with her love of cooking and entertaining. With plenty of growing children to feed in the past, it seemed natural to her to combine all her favourite things into one. Hence the idea for Tails of Tangleby Gardens was born.

This is her first children’s book (another one is already under way), with proceeds going to a charity of Sue’s choice. In addition to that, Sue is in the middle of creating a ‘kid’s club’ online with crafts, recipes, activities and competitions, and
her adult cookbook, A Table at Tangleby was also recently released.

She’s always been hard-working and very goal orientated. “When I am doing something, I am doing it to the fullest of my ability,” she explains.
This became apparent to her when she birthed her first child in 1991. “I loved being a mum so much that I went on to have seven children in six years.”
Sadly her second baby died at birth, on Christmas Day 1991.

“I was fortunate enough to have twins, a boy, and a girl, three years later on Christmas Day. Christmas is always special with Emma’s ashes under the tree, and a traditional gingerbread birthday cake.”

Life changed dramatically in 2007 when Sue was diagnosed with fibromyalgia. She found it difficult not being able to work or do many everyday activities. The condition took control of her life, creating a huge strain on her mental and physical state.

“I went from being a very capable person to a person that felt quite worthless,” she remembers.

By 2011 her marriage had deteriorated, and after her divorce Sue started looking for a forever home. “I was after a big garden that I could develop myself.
“While holidaying in Sydney, one of my sons phoned me and said that he had found the perfect home for me on the outskirts of Christchurch.”

The new home and undeveloped land around it proved perfect for her. Sue signed on the dotted line, moved in and started developing her dream garden.

“The landscaping began with mature trees being bought in as I felt I didn’t have time to wait for them to grow. I wasn’t getting any younger,” she laughs.
Life was a little lonely, so she decided to try online dating, and was “fortunate to meet an amazing man that I am now engaged to”.

The pair met for coffee and discovered each had been married for 25 years, and each had six children.

“His love of gardening has developed over the past few years, so now we both share the same passion,” says Sue.

When her garden proved too small, Sue bought a neighbouring property, subdivided the house off, and kept the extra 5500m2 to add to her existing garden. She plans to start developing it in early 2023.

Gardens aren’t her only forte.
In 2019, Sue saw an opportunity in the property market to purchase earthquake damaged homes, repair, renovate and then on-sell them.

“I was able to turn the houses around in six weeks from settlement to being back on the market again,” she recalls, adding it would be totally unachievable now with current supply chain issues.

“It was lucrative, but unrewarding and stressful. I needed something else!”

While holidaying, it dawned on her to use her grandchildren’s playhouse as the scene for a children’s book.

“I could bring in my love of cooking and combine a chapter book with recipes. My obsessive-compulsive personality came into play. As soon as the children’s book was completed I had so many recipe ideas floating around in my head that I decided to write an adult recipe book and do all the photography in my home and around the garden.”

As they say, the rest is history.


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