Auckland Garden DesignFest

This weekend sees 25 Auckland residential gardens throw open their gates to the public for the second biennial Auckland Garden DesignFest.

The DesignFest’s point of difference among the many garden rambles on offer is the celebration of design talent across the Auckland region.

“These owners have agreed to open up their normally private properties to the public,” says the festival’s joint chairperson Rose Thodey (see her own garden here). “It’s a special act of generosity which means that visitors can learn from and be inspired by these stunning professionally-designed gardens.”

A Balmoral garden by Robin Shafer.

Visitors to each garden will have the chance to explore the grounds and speak with the designer onsite. “It’s a rare opportunity to ask the professionals how they achieved the finished effect, and about any tips and tricks they can offer,” Rosemary says, adding that the DesignFest is about showing people how good design makes gardens more functional and pleasurable.

“When you see a garden that’s been well thought-through and which you enjoy being in, you get a real sense of the impact great design has.”

The DesignFest gardens feature an array of styles, plantings, artworks and materials, but all are underscored by a passion for the outdoors. To the north, highlights include Brett Maclennan’s native coastal garden overlooking the sea from Milford and Bryan McDonald’s contemporary Bayswater creation complete with a canopy of palms. Closer to the city centre designer Deb Hardy unveils her own family garden in Western Springs and Robin Shafer presents a whimsical Balmoral garden designed around a primrose yellow-coloured concrete villa. Neighbouring gardens in Freemans Bay belong to designer Sally Gordon and award-winning architect Pip Cheshire – both were created in a three-way consultation process with friend and landscaper Trish Bartleet, and backing on to One Tree Hill’s farm paddocks is Jan McGowan’s Arts & Crafts inspired garden. Finally, towards the East is Jo Hamilton’s rich oasis combining multiple landscaping styles in St Heliers, and a Glendowie garden by Pascal Tibbits which makes the most of a magnificent setting and is also featured in a new Prime TV series launching this week.

A Mt Eden garden by Xanthe White.

The festival runs from 10am-4pm on both days, with tickets available for purchase online, at Auckland-based Palmers Gardenworld and Palmers Planet Stores, or at the garden gates. Proceeds from all tickets go towards selected children’s charities. Picnic lunches from can be pre-booked and picked up from gardens in Milford and Western Springs. For more information go to the website.

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