Garden & Artfest: Day 4

There we are, all over for another 2 years! Director of this 10th biennial festival, John Beech, can heave a sigh of relief – apart from some strong winds today, the weather’s been pretty good. This was John’s last festival so I hope he’s being properly feted by his board of trustees for delivering 3 Garden and Artfests. Festivals aren’t the easiest thing to put on and one that’s at the vagaries of the weather (not to mention roadworks) is fraught with peril.

My thanks to all the gardeners who agreed to have hundreds of people tramp through their plots – I was impressed by how many were immaculate. Such effort and thoroughly appreciated.

There will always be niggles – the map is a perennial one and I heard grumbles again this time – but what could have been the biggest problem, the swampy ground at The Hub, just saw people accept it and get on. Sadly for Geoff Brunsden, his wildflowers were blooming at the original Hub site, a few blocks up the road, but he shrugged and grinned. Gardeners know the weather is a fickle companion.

After leaving The Hub this afternoon my final stop was at The Apron, a garden put into Baycourt’s lawn and commissioned by the festival from artist Richard Orjis. The programme blurb says: “… this project explores our everyday green spaces. It makes reference to our local landscape and the flora that resides on the boundary …”. I walked around it and through it but couldn’t quite grasp what was being presented. Could ‘flora on the boundary’ be a euphemism for ‘weeds’?

A view of The Apron garden. Photo: Sandra Simpson

Two ‘lawn’ circles have been cut, as well as a curving path between the flowering ‘beds’. Photo: Sandra Simpson

I only had time today for a country garden and a few city gardens before I was due back at The Hub to help out on a stand. Here are a few photos.

Not only was the front garden of this Brookfield home full of roses – every one was clearly named! Such a help. Photo: Sandra Simpson

Alstroemeria ‘Indian Summer’ makes a bold statement. Photo: Sandra Simpson

I was so excited to be out early this morning that when I arrived at the first garden I leapt out of the car and set off round the extensive grounds, meeting the owner part-way. She looked me up and down and asked if I was there for the ramble. Horrors, I’d left my neck tag in the car! I must have passed muster because she accepted my apologies without query. Later, I heard her husband on the phone saying that yesterday they’d had 15-20 people trying it on (hadn’t bought a ticket)! I scuttled back to the car, put my tag on and stayed legal for the rest of the day.

Garden & Artfest: Day 3

A gallery of photos from today, in no particular order.

Leigh Nicholas is showing an exhibition of her stunning flower photos in her Papamoa garden. Photo: Sandra Simpson

Clare Trott has ‘boxed clever’ by using Japanese box for her hedging – no problems with blight, whereas her two English box balls need constant spraying. Photo: Sandra Simpson

The view across the harbour from Pete’s Retreat at Mataphi (No 52). The peacock isn’t real. Photo: Sandra Simpson

This surprisingly large and well tended suburban Te Puke garden was full of sophisticated detail, such as this deck dresser. Photo: Sandra Simpson

Liz Clark in her Ohauiti pottery studio. Photo: Sandra Simpson

Claudia Gorringe (Standards of Excellence) was in a Japanese-inspired, high in the Ohauiti hills, chatting to the owner (far right). Photo: Sandra Simpson

Thankfully, after a long trip into the Ohauiti hills, there was a another garden open right next door. The giant gerbera makes a nice focal point at the end of this rustic pergola. Photo: Sandra Simpson


Garden & Artfest: Day 2


River Cottage’s pop-up café. Photo: Sandra Simpson

The Vege Grower held the calendar fort at The Hub today, allowing me to do a bit more roaming and, with an errand in Katikati, I decided to start at Garden 1, River Cottage. Wise choice, particularly as it was time for elevenses! What a welcoming sight on the front lawn and in the kitchen.


The sensational staff hard at work. Photo: Sandra Simpson

And the equally sensational strawberry sponge (with green tea). Photo: Sandra Simpson

Beautiful weather today and there seemed to be plenty of people taking advantage of it. Fingers crossed the weekend will be just as nice. Here are some photos from some of the other gardens I wandered around.

The cat may be called Bernie. Whatever, he’s very friendly and was enjoying the sun in the Italian-style garden at Earthforce (garden 5), occasionally drinking from the pool. Photo: Sandra Simpson

Even looking at a photo of a wasp makes my scalp crawl, but I couldn’t resist this colour combination. The bearded iris is Golden Panther and grows at the Amazing Iris Garden. Photo: Sandra Simpson

The southern view from a well-thought-out garden at Omokoroa Point. Photo: Sandra Simpson

And if that wasn’t enough, here’s the view to the east with Mauao showing above the horizon. The large ceramic jug in front is by potter Murray Garner who is showing in this garden. Photo: Sandra Simpson


Garden & Artfest: Day 1

Hard to think how to categorise the weather today – sometimes damp, occasionally sunny, a bit chilly, a little sun. Spring, in other words. I spent the morning at the festival’s Hub at The Lakes, helping out on the Tauranga Orchid Society stand and selling my calendars. One calendar went to a chap from Singapore who was delighted to learn that I’d taken all the photos myself – and promptly got me to autograph it!

The ground is very spongy and soggy at The Hub – a pair of ducks were busy dabbling across the central lawn and its ponds this morning – so festival director John Beech, Roger Allen from the bromeliad stand and a couple of other blokes laid some wood chips on weed matting to create a stable path in front of the marquees where the orchids and bromeliads are sited. And I can report that the ‘luxury’ Portaloos are indeed a cut above!

Zipped off around a few gardens this afternoon and am looking forward to a full day out tomorrow. (The Vege Grower will be at The Hub with my calendars, if you’re interested.)

My Mum, a rose bred by Bob Matthews of Wanganui, is in perfect bloom in the garden of Colleen Thwaites. Photo: Sandra Simpson

The enticing view from the driveway of a Plummer’s Point garden, which reveals itself to be full of flowers and colour against a background of established natives or the estuary. (Note the sky – it was just about to rain, again.) Photo: Sandra Simpson

Echoing detail between the land and the jetty. Photo: Sandra Simpson

Laburnum in flower at Alf Mundt’s garden. Photo: Sandra Simpson

A Japanese maple (left) provides a good colour foil to native horopito in Alf Mundt’s garden. Photo: Sandra Simpson


Fantastica Botanica

For the month of November – and in conjunction with the Tauranga Garden and Artfest – Graham Crow is showing his Fantastica Botanica in the foyer of the city’s Trinity Wharf Hotel.

Photo: Sandra Simpson

Graham has revisited his hydrangea exhibition from the last Garden and Artfest and now presents his hand-cut and hand-coloured paper petals as a wall, plus three hydrangea domes in various shades. The petals are amazingly textured and the nuances of colour astounding.

Graham also has an exhibition of new works at Zeus Gallery until November 17 – Blue Shift.

A card arrived in the post yesterday from Leigh Nicholas, reminding me she’s part of the Art Trail for the Garden and Artfest and inviting me to drop in to her Papamoa exhibition. Will do!

Leigh is one half of Evergreen Landscapes but is now as much at home behind the camera as she is the design table. In capturing the beauty of our natural world with her camera she demonstrates a keen artistic eye and works in a very natural way. Recommended.

The Garden and Artfest runs from November 17-20.