Festival a-go-go

It is official. We are reopening our garden for the ten days of Taranaki Garden Festival – and only for those ten days from October 30 to November 8. In fact, we are garden number one in the programme. We attended the launch on Thursday evening and there were asparagus rolls. I only mention this because the asparagus roll shares a special position of nostalgia in NZ catering history on a par with Maggi onion dip and slightly less controversial than the Otago and Southland cheese roll. But I digress.

Some of us braved a cold winter evening for the launch

but there were refreshments, including retro asparagus rolls to the top right

In honour of this occasion, I have spent quite a bit of time updating the garden information on this site. It took me more hours than I anticipated, that I would be grateful if you could check it out and make me feel that the time spent was worthwhile. Click on The Garden tab at the top of this page.

The printed programme is now out and the information is all on line here. You can request a free festival programme. If you plan to attend, it is worth getting a hard copy of the programme for the map. You can not rely on mobile phone reception throughout Taranaki and I say this as somebody who lives in one of the black spots.

There will be no plant sales. We left all that behind us years ago, much to our relief. Expect a terse response if you ask us.

However, there will be garden tours at no additional charge (Friday 30 October, Wednesday 4 November and Friday 6 November at 11am). Taking large groups around gardens is often described as an exercise in herding kittens. Mark professes himself to be in awe of my ability to head off around the garden with a large number of people and then emerge an hour later with almost the same number. I hasten to assure readers that I do not achieve this by publicly shaming any who wish to drop off the end. As far as I know, they stay voluntarily.

Mark and I are also offering two workshops. There is an additional charge for these and you must pre-book because numbers are strictly limited. You will have Mark’s and my undivided attention along with morning tea. I shall bake cakes for these occasions and the chances of proper coffee rather than instant are high.

New Directions with Sunny Perennials

For over a decade, we have been looking closely at modern trends in perennial gardening, particularly in England. Variously called the Dutch New Wave, New Perennials and the New Naturalism, we have analysed and experimented with these ideas in the very different conditions of coastal Taranaki, culminating in the planting of an acre of new summer gardens.

Join us for morning tea and a talk on key points we have distilled from visiting over 90 gardens in England, France and Italy, tracking the work of six key contemporary designers and how we have applied this in their own garden.

Numbers strictly limited. Bookings essential. $25 includes garden entry fee.

Monday 2 November 10.15am Book here.

(I have never kept a list of all the gardens we have visited but I did a quick tally of those in England, France and Italy and I really-o truly-o did get past 90. That is not an exaggeration.)

Meadow Theory 101

While charmed by what are often called ‘wildflower meadows’, we knew that they would soon become a weedy mess in our conditions so set about looking at different meadow styles, the underlying theories and management techniques that apply in our conditions with verdant year-round growth. We have now established bulb hillsides, changed the formerly mown park into an actively managed meadow and, most recently, adapted a neglected area of the garden to a perennial meadow.

Join us for morning tea as we share what they have learned and the fine balance needed in managing a sustainable meadow with environmental benefits while avoiding an out of control, weedy wilderness.

Numbers strictly limited. Bookings essential. $25 includes garden entry fee.

Sunday 1 November 10.15am Book here.

Our sunken garden

There are 40 gardens open with related events but there is a whole lot more to the festival this year. There is also the Sustainable Backyards Trail with its focus on food production and creative approaches to sustainability and self-sufficiency.  And the Taranaki Arts Trail which had to be postponed from earlier in the year because of Covid restrictions – 85 artists around the province opening their studios to visitors.  Both of these trails are included in the garden festival programme.

Then there is Feast Festival Taranaki – Garden to Plate – for those who like to feed the inner person on good food, mostly in the evenings. That is local restaurants using local produce to create special menus and related events. I am not sure that their website is up and running yet but you can capture the flavour, so to speak, on their Facebook page. Finally, starting on November 5, a new theatre-based festival will start. Called RESET 2020, it is a re-set after Covid forced the cancellation of other planned events and overseas performers. The programme, featuring NZ performers, will be announced in a few weeks.

As I explained all this to Mark, he described it as a ten out of ten on the befuddlement scale and that comment alone illustrates why I am still married to this man. Suffice to say, you can visit our garden and there is plenty more to entertain you in the wider area.

With the big upsurge in domestic tourism at this time, it may pay to make plans early if you are visiting from outside the region. Postscript for overseas readers: sorry, this is all of no relevance to you. Even if you wanted to, you can not come. Flights to NZ remain few and far between and you have to be a NZ citizen or permanent resident to get in (bar a few essential workers). Even then, all incoming passengers have to go into government quarantine for 14 days and it seems to be the luck of the draw as to whether you get confined in a five star hotel or one that is more modest. But we are now free of Covid, bar the quarantine cases at the border, and have been for over ten weeks. Life here is back to normal – no masks, no PPE, no physical distancing required, no restrictions bar those at the border. This situation has been hard-won and there aren’t many New Zealanders willing to risk the alternatives as we look at the grim situations around the world.  It seems there is a long way to go in this pandemic yet. May those of you overseas stay safe and well.

16 thoughts on “Festival a-go-go

  1. tonytomeo

    Ah, regardless of travel restrictions, I could not get to New Zealand. It is nice to see that the situation there has improved enough to allow for this though.

    1. Abbie Jury Post author

      Indeed! I think we were the first country to go back to major sports games with no restrictions on crowds, too – with no risk of Covid. The difference is that it has to be local crowds of NZers only.

  2. Joanne Hammond

    Garden section is excellent and I hope to be able to see in person come November.

  3. robynkiltygardensnz

    Good luck with the Festival – thinking about coming – although it is garden season and there is also a lot going on here – plus visits to my own garden. We will see how the dates pan out.
    The photos of your garden are gorgeous!!

  4. Jenny Williams

    I’ve never had the fortune to visit your garden, Abbie, but hope to this year. What do you think will be your main flowering attractions at the time of the festival? I guess the prunuses will be a real picture; will R nuttallii and maddenii (excuse the spelling!) be showing any early blooms, do you think? And magnolias?

    1. Abbie Jury Post author

      Hello Jenny. Usually too late for prunus but the nuttallis and maddeniis are blooming. Too late for magnolias. The deciduous azaleas and Siberian iris are in flower, also primula, wisteria and early perennials. There is never a shortage of flowers here.

  5. elainebolitho

    Blessings for a great time sharing your wonderful garden. If only we were capable of staying on our feet that long we would love to be with you – but we do appreciate all your posts which we enjoy at our leisure. I’m sure it will all go very well for you.


  6. Paddy Tobin

    Best wishes for the garden opening. I wish I was within striking distance to be able to enjoy your garden “in the flesh”.

      1. Paddy Tobin

        We have been given the go-ahead with some freedom, keeping our distance from others; small groups may meet etc. However, Mary and I intend continuing as we have been doing, staying at home, ordering shopping online etc, and not mixing with anybody! We are becoming hermits.

  7. Kathleen F

    Will definitely try to be there. Can’t wait to catch up with Mark, it’s only been twenty years. A shame about there being no plant sales! Dare I ask – no cuttings for sale either?

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