Sowing the seed

With all the garden festivals, trails and events on just now, it was interesting to hear about some of the changes on the way for next year’s Bay of Plenty Garden & Art Festival (November 19-22) at a recent ‘soft launch’.

The popular festival hub, aka Bloom in the Bay – previously at the Historic Village and before that The Lakes – is on the move once again and next year will be at Tauranga Racecourse making use of the buildings (eg, for the Long Lunch and a festival gallery where every artist in the programme is represented by one work) and the grounds for concept gardens.

A quiet corner in a central Tauranga garden that was open in 2018. Photo: Sandra Simpson

Two new awards have been mooted, one for landscape design and one for an emerging artist.Festival director Marc Anderson would like to see the winning landscape design built, but that’s still at the wish-list stage. He also mentioned that the art award was for any early-career artist, regardless of age, and that the winner would be exhibited on the garden trails.

The new Te Puke postal centre and visitor information centre (Te Manawa) will be the site for a garden competition with the a difference – gardens will be constructed on the backs of small trucks/utes or in car boots. Marc said he’d love to see entrants in a procession to the Racecourse but didn’t know how hard that would be on the gardens!

For anyone whose garden hasn’t quite made the grade for 2020, but where the assessors can see potential, there is a new mentor scheme, hopefully bringing new gardens into each festival. Gardeners will work with landscape designer Celia Laity, who has recently moved to the Bay of Plenty.

And a suggested cycling trail is to be included for Te Puna-area gardens.

Part of the fun of a garden festival is not knowing what you might find – these are the flowers of an ooray tree (Davidsonia puriens), native to tropical Queensland. The plum-like fruit have been a favourite with the indigenous people for thousands of years. Photo: Sandra Simpson

It was great to see so many familiar gardening faces at the event – people who have been opening their plots since the first festival in 2001, some who’ve had a festival off and are returning and some who are opening their garden for the first time. They were rightly applauded for their generosity, especially, as one gardener said, it’s 2 years of hard work to have it right for those few days.

Figures quoted suggested a value to the community of $1.453 million, with 29,000 visitors attending the 2018 festival (a few over 10,000 tickets sold) – 36.5% from Tauranga and the Western Bay; 33% from the rest of the Bay of Plenty; 14% from Waikato; 14.5% from the rest of New Zealand and 2% from overseas, a figure Marc would like to see increase.

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