During my visit to the inaugural NZ Flower and Garden Show earlier this week I got chatting to a chap standing beside a garden and quickly realised it was the site planned by inmates from Paremoremo Prison in Auckland.
The stepping stones represent the chance of a new beginning, although the ‘jail’ character from Monopoly is watching. Photo: Sandra Simpson
The men, with the help of designer Adam Shuter, had grown the plants (all natives), welded the sculptures, woven 8000m of twine for the lovely seat, and created the striking 3D head sculptures … but the only way they were going to see it was via video. The Corrections Department and NZFGS kindly provided two whanau tickets per inmate so at least family members had the chance to have a look.
The garden included two Coreten flax sculptures and a stainless steel cabbage tree. Photo: Sandra Simpson
Auckland Prison manager industries David Grear was my informant at ‘Redemption’ and you can read more about the development of the garden here. The use of Monopoly-type posters in the garden was at once both witty and rather sad. As I said to David, I’m never likely to visit a prison, I don’t know what’s available to inmates or how they system runs – the garden was, in a way, the prison coming to me. And I was rather impressed.
The seat was handmade with the covering woven from 8000m of twine. The three heads in the garden were based on relatives of inmates. Photo: Sandra Simpson
One of the other gardens that gave me great joy was by Kiwi designer Bayley LuuTomes and South African designer Leon Kluge, ‘Trouville: Something Lovely Discovered by Chance’ (they also teamed up to represent New Zealand at the 2016 Singapore Garden Festival, winning Gold and Best in Show for its outdoor lighting.)
The garden won a Gold medal and a Design Excellence award.
This extensive garden had a bit of everything, yet felt a harmonious whole. From soft ‘wildflowers’ planted on parts of the sloping grass sides, to the shipping container-like cabin with its origami-like exterior walls, and the maple-surrounded pool the garden was enchanting. My only criticism is that the pool area could be fully appreciated only from inside the cabin, which was off-limits to the general public but (ahem) not to this member of the media (I do it for you, dear readers)! Follow me in …
Gaura, salvia and statice, among others, soften the exterior of the site. Photo: Sandra Simpson
I love the grass growing up and over those beautiful wooden walls. Photo: Sandra Simpson
More wilderness planting at the front of the cabin, letting us peek inside (well, if you’re already partway up the steps!). Photo: Sandra Simpson
A deck extends over the black-water pool. Photo: Sandra Simpson
Australian designer Christian Jenkins was on the phone when I asked to enter his Balinese-style garden, ‘Nature and Nurture’ so his mum gave me the nod. The bonus about being inside was seeing the reflections in the black-water pool (years ago Ben Hoyle told me he used coffee grounds to create his black water for show gardens). And how great that among the palms he used was our very own nikau palm.
The judges deliberate – ‘Nature and Nurture’ won a Gold medal. Photo: Sandra Simpson
A ‘floating island’ in each side of the pond added extra interest. Photo: Sandra Simpson
The boardwalk deck was too inviting to resist! Photo: Sandra Simpson
Reflections in the black-water pond plus a pop of vivid colour from some of the poolside bromeliads. Photo: Sandra Simpson