BOP Garden & Art Festival

Bay of Plenty Garden & Art Festival director John Beech was guest speaker at the Tauranga Orchid Society meeting last night and had some news and updates about this long-running biennial event.

After reviewing ticket information from 2014 – which revealed that 85% were one and two-day garden passes – the decision was made to change the festival from Monday-Sunday to Thursday-Sunday. (Previously, the various festival areas opened one by one from Monday to Thursday, with all gardens open Friday to Sunday.)

The event, previously known as the New Zealand Garden & Art Festival, has been renamed the Bay of Plenty Garden & Art Festival to reflect its locality. John knows my feelings on the previous name so also knows the change has my whole-hearted support!

This year the festival takes place from November 17-20 and has 60 private gardens from Katikati to Te Puke, as well as 46 artists exhibiting. John noted that the garden trails are made up of genuinely private gardens with some “places of interest” also listed and this category will include public gardens such as Te Puna Quarry Park.

The Lakes subdivision will again play host to a festival hub and feature one of the largest marquees in New Zealand as a display area. The Expo will include concept gardens, a sculpture walk, speaker series, displays, stands by local garden-related societies (such as the Orchid Society), music and a café.

John has contacted a number of specialist garden groups in the area about having a free stand with a gazebo provided as an opportunity to encourage interest, educate, potentially gather new members, and sell plants – two have responded!

“We know the festival touched 25,000 people in some way in 2014,” John said, “and 15,000 of them went through The Lakes hub. On the first day the hub was open we had 500 people per hour coming through the gates.”

John went to the inaugural Brisbane International Garden Show last year and said the display stands by horticultural groups had worked well and it was something he wants to do here.

I hear so many garden groups complaining about declining membership and/or ageing membership that it beggars belief they wouldn’t jump at this opportunity to put their ‘brand’ in front of an interested public, potentially fund raise and sign up new members. The Tauranga Orchid Society is fortunate to have some new, young and enthusiastic members – and we did that by putting on our three-day annual show with a beautiful display of plants and making sure we have friendly meeters and greeters who have membership information to hand.

The BOP Garden & Art Festival programme will be launched on August 5.

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