Garden festival news

You may remember the postponement last July of the Auckland festival designed to offer a North Island alternative to the in-hiatus Ellerslie International Flower Show – well, the NZ Flower & Garden Show is back on and at a new location.

In her from the Director post at the show’s website, Kate Hillier says “its has taken a few months to find a suitable new home for the flower show” confirming my thoughts that Bastion Point had proved too ‘special’ as a venue. The debut event, from November 29 to December 3, will be at The Trusts Arena in Waitakere, west Auckland. (Kate, by the way, is a member of the famous Hillier Nurseries family in the UK.)

Tickets go on sale on May 1 and start from $24 with children under 12 free.

Sadly, there is no sign of the Ellerslie show, which began in Auckland, making a comeback in the Garden City. Christchurch City Council bought the rights to the show in 2007 for about $3 million. However, the 2011 show was cancelled after earthquakes devastated Christchurch (the show was being built at the time and one of the larger marquees provided shelter for about 1000 people immediately after the February quake) and the last show in 2014 ran at a $325,000 loss and attracted 10,000 fewer visitors than expected. The quakes have left the council in a spending minefield so it’s hardly surprising a garden show is well down the list of priorities.

The biennial Auckland Garden Design Fest is back this year (November 25-26) dovetailing nicely with the NZ Flower & Garden Show for out-of-town visitors. This festival showcases the in-situ work of professional garden designers, many of whom are available in the gardens to talk to visitors.

The biennial Gisborne Garden & Arts Festival has been experiencing some difficulties, according to its Facebook page. The 2015 festival was cancelled because organisers couldn’t find enough “suitable” gardens – it’s hard to convince people to open their private property to hundreds of strangers, even if for a good cause – and this year’s festival was cancelled when drought saw gardeners pulling out. Organisers promise it will be back in 2019. Fingers crossed for them.

The Bay of Plenty Garden & Art Festival (centred on Tauranga) has a new director – John Beech has stepped down after delivering 3 festivals, while stepping up to organise the 2018 festival is Marc Anderson. Marc, a Kiwi who was brought up in Whakatane, has lived most of his adult life in Australia and Ireland where he had strong experience in music and arts festivals. He returned late last year from Ireland to live at Mount Maunganui with his wife and children.

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