NZFGS 2018 Gold Medals, Part 2

Since WordPress essentially ate my first version of this post, I’m doing it again. Hopefully I’ll be able to make it look ‘normal’ this time!

In all 15 Gold medals have been awarded across all categories in the NZ Flower and Garden Show (see yesterday’s posts for the balance).

Convenor of judges and award-winning designer, Penny Cliffin, says: “Judging more than 200 exhibits that reflect a world-class standard of horticultural and floral design is no easy feat. Each medal was awarded based on a number of key elements including; ‘wow’ factor, originality of design, the quality and appropriateness of plant material and quality of construction.”

Franca Logan has done it again in the Floral Fashion section – taking her second Gold in the show’s 2 years – with ‘Land of the Long White Cloud’.


The bench has been positioned so people may lie down and look up into the floral cloud. Photo: Sandra Simpson

Franca, who was born in The Netherlands, owns Florienne in Takapuna and says of her return flights to New Zealand which inspired the installation: “As the plane started to descend through the clouds there were intermittent glimpses of a beautiful place with trees and abundant nature, a hidden paradise … It was like a secret unveiling …”

‘Land of the Long White Cloud’ also won a Special Feature excellence award.


All the white blooms have been grown in New Zealand and are shrouded in muslin and cotton wool. Photo: Sandra Simpson

Other Gold medals in Floral Fashion:


By Lisa Gilmour of the Manukau Institute of Technology. Photo: NZFGS


‘Force of Nature’ by Valmae Cameron of the NZ Floral Art Society. Photo: NZFGS


Detail from ‘Standing Tall in the Pacific’ by Lorraine Usher and Geri Nielsen of the NZ Floral Art Society. Photo: Sandra Simpson

Do you like the Auckland skyline in ‘Standing Tall in the Pacific’? The installation also included an Easter Island-type head which a small sign revealed has been carved from Bio Floral Foam and covered in beet seeds.

Two Gold medals were awarded in the School category – both thoroughly deserving.

A group of uniformed children from Roscommon Primary School in Manurewa was looking at their entry, guided by an older woman who pointed out various things and then said, “this is a garden that brings us all together”, before bustling off to straighten the cushions!


From hangi pit to pizza oven to a barbecue made from a washing machine drum; from taro plants to kumara plants to strawberry plants; from a coconut scraper to a fishing net, the Nesian Fusian garden has it all. Photo: Sandra Simpson


Nesian Fusion even included a beautiful table setting. Photo: Sandra Simpson

Mairangi Bay School, on Auckland’s North Shore, has presented a very cool Kiwi bach garden.


Good on them, I thought, having flowers on a pohutukawa this early. The realistic looking flowers turned out to be plastic! Photo: Sandra Simpson


Who wouldn’t want to stay in a bach like this? Photo: Sandra Simpson

Besides the two Hobbiton Gold medal gardens I featured yesterday, there was one other in the Upcycle Challenge, awarded to Christine Mawhinney (who shared a Gold last year with her sister and daughter in the same category). ‘Winslow Girls’ is about using grey water – water recovered from sinks, showers and washing machines and perfectly fine to use on a garden.


The Winslow Girls garden. Photo: NZFGS

Back in the Pavilion, two Golds were awarded in the Community Gardening section.


The backyard scene created by the NZ Gardens Trust. Photo: NZFGS


Bonsai on the Rocks is presented by the Auckland Bonsai Society. Photo: Sandra Simpson


A coloured rope creates a ‘mountain range’ with the key components of bonsai noted. Pictured here are a Liquidamber (front) and a golden totara. Photo: Sandra Simpson

NZFGS Gold Medals, Part 1

Thought you might like to see some images of the Gold Medal display gardens at this NZ Flower and Garden Show, open until Sunday at the ASB Trust Arena in west Auckland (easy to access if you’re coming from the south thanks to the new Waterview link).

Lost and Found by Christian Jenkins of Victoria, Australia is a ‘wellness garden’. Photo: Sandra Simpson

Australian designer Christian Jenkins has been specialising in ‘wellness gardens’ for 4 years and explains that he includes water because it is ‘very calming’ and that a space for people to ‘come together’ is also very important to wellbeing.

A stepping stone path leads into the garden and then from the deck there’s another path to a  more private area. Photo: Sandra Simpson

The garden, which also won awards for Horticultural Excellence and Design Excellence, was built in an extraordinary 8 days. It includes Australian plants, such as Brachychiton rupestris (Queensland bottle tree) and a grass tree which still has its soaring spent flower head on it. Plants were sourced from Matakana Palms and Christian has nothing but praise for its owner Bruce Whistler who grows many of his rare plants from seed.

Christian Jenkins talks to freelance media from China. Photo: Sandra Simpson

Pollinator gardens are a bit of a theme this year with first-time exhibitors Christine Prebble (Mosaic Design) and Katrina Christison (Tidy Gardens) are showing them how it’s done by walking off with a Gold medal.

A Pollinator’s Paradise Garden by Christine Prebble and Katrina Christison. Photo: Sandra Simpson

The garden includes insect hotels, a water bowl for bees, butterflies and other insects, a dummy beehive, fruit trees and lots and lots of flowers.

Katrina Christison (left) and Christine Prebble in their Gold medal garden. Photo: Sandra Simpson

In 2014 Christine – who in 2012 retrained in landscape design – went to the Chelsea Flower Show and worked for the Hillier’s Nusery plant staging team helping to create two exhibits, The Bee Garden and The White Garden, while Katrina has gone to Chelsea for the past 5 years to be part of Jo Thompson’s team and has also worked at the Hampton Court Flower Show and the Singapore Garden Show.

A bumblebee enjoys the garden. Photo: Sandra Simpson

Last year’s Supreme winner Hobbiton this year presented two small gardens in the Upcycle Challenge in partnership with Matamata Primary School – and won Gold for both with Bushman’s Backyard winning the category overall. 

Bushman’s Backyard includes a recycled bath and copper piping. Photo: Sandra Simpson
Students at Matamata Primary School germinated and grew seedlings for the garden using old cardboard rolls, newspaper tubes and egg shells. Photo: Sandra Simpson
Hobbiton’s second garden, and another Gold medal garden, is Bee Natural – old beehive boxes have been used as planters. Photo: Sandra Simpson
Hobbiton’s art department has done a great job with the giant bee that hovers over the garden. Photo: Sandra Simpson

Matt McIsaac of Industry Landscapes won Gold for his sleek, pared-down Urban Oasis garden in the Balcony Garden competition.

Urban Oasis by Matt McIsaac. Photo: NZFGS

This was another Zen-inspired garden – there’s a rill through the middle of the decking, the timber of which has been charred using an ancient Japanese technique to include fire as an element. The Acer palmatum Crimson Queen has been hung with Spanish moss to create further movement and interest.

NZ Flower & Garden Show 2018

Dashed to Auckland and back yesterday for the media day for the NZ Flower & Garden Show (NZFGS). It opens its doors to the public today and runs until Sunday – and it’s looking good!

I was thrilled to see many of my assessments ended up chiming with the judges after medals and awards were handed out in the afternoon, and won the bet I placed with myself as to the Supreme winner, which was announced at a function last night.

Jules Moore at the fire corner of her garden – underneath the burning lamp is Japanese blood grass (Imperata cylindrica) with Pamela, the 100-year-old maple, in the background. Photo: Sandra Simpson

It was no surprise (to me, anyway) that it was Jules Moore and her team for their magnificent Zen garden. The idea of representing the five Chinese elements – earth, air, water, fire and metal – is something of a sub-theme at the show this year, along with pollinator gardens. 

Update: Jules’ Zen Garden has also won the People’s Choice Award.

Bayley LuuTomes shows a fellow exhibitor through the garden. Photo: Sandra Simpson

Jules’ project manager Bayley LuuTomes, himself a well-known landscape designer, walked me through Jules’ Zen Garden, explaining that each corner represented the elements earth, water, air and fire, with metal symbolised by a collection of temple bells in the centre of the pavilion, a place where all the elements come together. Visitors are also treated to a soundtrack of a temple bell being struck.

The corner that highlights water. Photo: Sandra Simpson

The garden, which took 20 days to create (some of it in torrential rain), also won Gold and the award for Construction Excellence. From above, Jules says, it has a distinct yin and yang pattern.

The garden is a credit to its creators. Photo: Sandra Simpson

Much of the plant material has come from Jules’ own nursery with the rest sourced from places she’s worked with for years – including ‘Pamela’, the 100-year-old maple who has her roots in a surprisingly small pot. Jules says she’s known Pamela for years and has long wanted to do something with her. She also thinks that after the show she might just take Pamela home! I wanted to bring the entire garden home, but apparently the $50 in my pocket wasn’t quite enough … Jules is, however, open to ‘sensible’ offers.

BOP Floral Art

The BOP Floral Art group had a great display at the Historic Village in Tauranga during the recent Garden and Art Festival, using both the lawn and the old schoolroom to stage their work – and were thrilled to exhibit their major pieces in the open air.

The BOP Designer of the Year competition – with the theme Nature into Art – was won by Ruth Wilson with Francine Thomas second.

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Detail from Ruth Wilson’s winning entry. The pieces shown outside were refreshed each morning to stay in tip-top condition for visitors. Photo: Sandra Simpson

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Francine Thomas explains  she constructed her moss-covered ‘old log’ (she got a jig-saw for Christmas last year), which includes jute-wrapped hula hoops. Photo: Sandra Simpson

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Ruth Wilson was also placed first in the Hang On section. Photo: Sandra Simpson

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Winner of Storm in a Teacup (front) was Lesley Burgess. Photo: Sandra Simpson

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An innovative Storm in a Teacup entry from Jocelyn Sutton. Photo: Sandra Simpson

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Marion Lewin was second in the Illusion section. Photo: Sandra Simpson

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Diane Hinton’s entry for In Days Gone By. Photo: Sandra Simpson

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Winner of In Days Gone By was Francine Thomas. Photo: Sandra Simpson

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Gladys Possin won second for her In Days Gone By entry. Photo: Sandra Simpson

Garden & Art festival: Day 4

And the rain came down (briefly) at 3.20pm … just as the gardens were closing on the final day. Most places reported quieter visitor numbers today and I certainly didn’t go as far or spend the full day out, although I did see a fair few people wearing day-pass tags so presumably they were making the most of it.

Perhaps it was because I was already pretty sated or perhaps it was just the luck of the draw but today I met a few ‘gardens’ that were actually about something else – a cafe (x 2) and a nursery. Nothing necessarily wrong with that but I was expecting more in the way of a garden at each stop.

Anyway, here’s a batch of photos from today’s gardens that I loved.

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An impressive grape pergola at the Tauriko home of Debby Sanders and Rick Rimmer. To the left are two envy-making enclosed growing spaces – one for veges and one for berries. Photo: Sandra Simpson

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The decorative metal frame of this seat came from a Dunedin picture theatre. Photo: Sandra Simpson

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Intrigued by this gravel planting in the Larking garden, labelled ‘Canterbury Patchwork’, and including tussocks and clover. Photo: Sandra Simpson

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The zig-zag rose arbors are each named for a famous garden the Larkings have visited, although Peter said ‘Stonehenge’ was a joke! Photo: Sandra Simpson

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Bronwyn Towersey has filled her large, undulating garden on the edge of Tauranga with trees, shrubs and flowers, but still has plenty of ‘fairway’ lawn. Photo: Sandra Simpson

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And she has two large ponds to play with as well. Photo: Sandra Simpson


Garden & Art Festival: Day 3

We’ve been blessed with the weather this year – fine and sunny, but not too hot – just right for viewing gardens, and garden hosts reported steady streams of visitors today.

If you haven’t popped by Bloom in the Bay at the Historic Village (17th Ave, Tauranga), you’ve got one more chance tomorrow to enjoy the floral art, concept gardens, garden-related sales stands, food and drink offerings and music, plus there are speakers scheduled from 11.30am.

All the garden and art stops are open again tomorrow too, until 3pm. Buy tickets here.

Here are some photos from today’s meanderings.

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Avalanche roses edge a view across part of the enormous Te Puke area garden opened by Wendy and Lindsay Marshall (no. 70). Photo: Sandra Simpson

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Sweetpeas flower rampantly on a boundary fence in a suburban Te Puke garden (no. 64). This one is a cottage garden with flair. Photo: Sandra Simpson

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Mosiac art by Michelle Arnold at garden 69, which also has a great cafe in the colour-filled garden. Photo: Sandra Simpson

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Ron Howie is thrilled with the way his stream lilies, the Australian rainforest native Helmholtzia glaberrima, are flowering this year (garden 67, full of unusual delights). Photo: Sandra Simpson

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There’s a relaxing holiday feel to this Mt Maunganui property (garden 59). Photo: Sandra Simpson

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A pumice-strung wall perfectly fits the beach vibe in Leanne Hopkins’ Mt Maunganui garden (no. 58). Photo: Sandra Simpson

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Glorious Tauranga Harbour views from garden 40 (even the hoon on the jetski looks okay like this). Photo: Sandra Simpson

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A neo-classical gazebo, roses and cottage annuals beside the harbour in garden 41. Photo: Sandra Simpson

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The ceramic nikau of artist Mary Paton are framed by this nifty trellis, a Trade Me find for garden owner Bobbie. The entry to garden 43, which includes a nursery, is a master class in producing a rabbit (unexpected treat) from a hat. Photo: Sandra Simpson

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This year’s kokedama display by Coraleigh Parker, at the Historic Village, is a bit of a showstopper. Photo: Sandra Simpson

Read more about kokedama at Coraleigh’s website.

Garden & Art Festival: Day 2

Whew, what a scorcher!, as a UK tabloid headline writer once said. A beautiful day full of pristine gardens, welcoming gardeners and good humour among visitors. Nice too, to bump into a few people I hadn’t seen for a while.

Go to the Garden and Art Festival website for full details of what’s still to come and how to be part of it (the festival finishes on Sunday).

Here are a few photos from today.

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It might be a long way up Whakamarama Road but garden 9 is well worth the journey with its azaleas, large pond, pavilion, gazebo, waterwheel and much more. Photo: Sandra Simpson

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Also high in the hills is garden 4, a 20-year-old acre of planting that seems to go on forever. Photo: Sandra Simpson

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Recycling beehive boxes into a potato box seems to be working well at Earthforce (garden 5). Photo: Sandra Simpson

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What do you do with the massive trunk of an old palm tree? Roger Allen at garden 12 has turned into a planter for the equally large bromeliad, Alcantarea imperialis. Photo: Sandra Simpson

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Roger reckons he inherited the garden after the owner met a watery end! Photo: Sandra Simpson

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Hippeastrum at garden 7.

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Garden 16 is always a pleasure to visit with its froth of roses and annuals. Photo: Sandra Simpson

Ian, who makes the ‘birdshacks’ that dot Colleen’s garden is retiring but still has a few left for sale. Ph 06 354 1285 or email Ian.

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Tania Minnell is exhibiting her mirror work at Earthforce (garden 5), which also features a plant nursery. Photo: Sandra Simpson

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Louisiana iris Our Dorothy at the Amazing Iris Garden (no. 6). Photo: Sandra Simpson

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Vienna Waltz is a tall bearded iris at the Amazing Iris Garden. Photo: Sandra Simpson


Garden & Art Festival: Day 1

Noticed a few recycled copper hot-water cylinders in today’s Tauranga city gardens as I hit the trail on day 1 of the 2018 Garden and Art Festival (one-day tickets still available).

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A copper planter in garden 33, created by Peter and Sandy Blair. Photo: Sandra Simpson

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There’s clever stuff galore created by Raymund Buckley in garden 31, including this outdoor table. Photo: Sandra Simpson

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This water feature is in garden 26 where owner Isaac Weston also has wood and copper works for sale. Photo: Sandra Simpson

Isaac creates his copper and timber art under the brand Reworkit.

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Regular reader Philippa asked me to include a photo of Isaac’s clever sun dial – there are many more styles for sale. Photo: Sandra Simpson

And before we leave the coppery theme, how about this beauty from the rose-filled front garden of Helen and Barry Green? (Garden 34, and the back garden’s pretty good too.)

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Rose Bonfire was eye-catching today. Photo: Sandra Simpson

Garden and Art Festival visitors were treated to some grand views too …

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The inner harbour from garden 25. The figure you see is taking the steps that lead to an elevated, private deck and then the beach. The whole garden has been done in 12 months, a real credit to owner and designer Michelle McDonnell. Photo: Sandra Simpson

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Bridget Little has decorated a table on the verge between her home and the beach at garden 29. Photo: Sandra Simpson

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St Francis watches over a cool corner in garden 27, where birds are actively encouraged to flock – and feed on slugs and snails. Photo: Sandra Simpson

Armistice centenary

We split up today to mark the centenary of the end of World War 1. The Vege Grower and I were in Wellington (where the weather was absolutely, positively gorgeous) and the Young Adult Lawnmower was in Tauranga.

I went to a LitCrawl session at the National Library: The Eleventh Hour on The Eleventh Day, where writers young and old – and including two teenage Syrian refugee brothers – responded to the topic.

The Vege Grower headed off to the National Ceremony at Pukeahu National War Memorial Park and came back speaking of it in glowing terms, and with an official programme.

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The cover of the beautifully produced programme.

The inside back cover records the plant material used to make the Wreath of Remembrance: Olive, pohutukawa, Turkey oak (Quercus cerris), northern rata, a native fern (it doesn’t specify which one), Chinese elm (Ulmus parvifolia), eucalyptus, kōwhai, rosemary, and mānuka flowers.

The YA Lawnmower, meanwhile, was minding the hacienda and went to a Tauranga screening of They Shall Not Grow Old, Peter Jackson’s compilation of documentary footage from London’s Imperial War Museum that has been cleaned up and colourised.

It doesn’t start or end in colour, instead it’s only when the soldiers get to France that it becomes colour. He described it as informative, thought-provoking and very moving.

Here it comes!

Every 2 years gardeners in the Western Bay of Plenty get to indulge their passion with a vengeance as the Garden and Art Festival rolls out the welcome mat to – this time – 71 properties between Katikati and Rangiuru (south of Te Puke) and including Tauranga’s urban area and Matapihi. Some stops are gardens only, some are gardens with art on display, some are art only and there are pop-up cafes here and there.

As well, Tauranga’s Historic Village is hosting The Festival Hub – speakers, workshops, concept gardens and floral art. If you’ve bought a ticket, entry to the speaker sessions is free, otherwise you can go along and listen for a very reasonable $5.

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A welcoming corner awaits in Garden no. 21. Photo: Sandra Simpson

Coincidentally, on Wednesday I happened to visit 2 gardens that are in the festival, and speak to the owner of another one. All very much looking forward to interacting with visitors and happily putting final touches to their gardens.

Tickets are available from Palmers Bethlehem, Décor Gardenworld (Bethlehem), Baycourt (Tauranga), Macandmor Art Space (Goddards Arcade, Tauranga), Pacifica Home and Garden Centre (Papamoa), Arts Junction Katikati and Te Puke Florist, as well as the festival website. A 1-day pass is $35, a 4-day pass $65.

The festival runs from Thursday to Sunday (November 15-18) and there’s a shuttle bus option available for anyone not wanting to, or who can’t, drive.

See you there (and drive carefully)!