Aaand… we are open again

Day one of the garden festival opened not with a whimper, but with a hiss and a roar. The cars started rolling in just before 9am and by 9.10am the main lines of our modest but usually adequate carpark were full. I had gaily told our volunteers that we wouldn’t need them before 9.45 or 10.00 but I was wrong. We were scrambling from the start and didn’t draw breath til the lunchtime lull.

The first line of carparking
Opening up to new lines of carparking. That was soon full to overflowing. It appears we can actually park 54 cars and campervans but that may be our full capacity.

Numbers are not a problem in the garden. We actively garden and open about seven acres and we can sink a lot of people into that area without it feeling crowded. It is the carparking that can be a problem because we have to get vehicles off the road so we manage it carefully. We were directing cars into our second and third parking lines which was fine until one visitor managed to get their vehicle marooned on a large tree stump. This is a feat that nobody else has achieved since Mark’s mother did the same thing on the same stump in the 1970s. It completely blocked the exit for half the vehicles.

A feat unmatched in close to fifty years…
The offending stump

Lloyd to the rescue, though even the normally unflappable Lloyd was a little stressed by this situation. He didn’t want to pull it off with the tractor because that would have pulled the whole front bumper off the car so, ever resourceful, he sent the owner around the garden while he carefully and laboriously jacked up the car using timber bracing until he had it sufficiently clear to enable him to back it off, with no visible damage to the car. I think the visitor was grateful.

My free garden tour at 11am attracted rather too many people for me to manage it as well as I can with smaller numbers. Mark has always been in awe of my ability to take a tour around the garden and to emerge an hour later with more or less the same numbers with which I started. The group this time was too large so I did lose some along the way but it is not compulsory to stay to the end.

Led by the pied piper of Tikorangi, yours truly

Gloria and Pat are mostly managing the gate and we are proud of the 100% cooperation rate with scanning or signing in. Dr Ashley would be proud of us, we feel. It seems that people will forget or neglect to scan unless reminded but everybody agrees that we want to keep NZ free from Covid so they are happy to scan the QA code when specifically requested. For overseas readers, this is the tracing app the government is encouraging so that in the event of a new case, everybody who may have been exposed can be contacted immediately.

Music from 1pm tomorrow (Sunday)

Day one saw numbers that were four times higher than our ten year average for the same day but that was eclipsed this morning. Since then, torrential rain set in so it remains to be seen how the day pans out but the hardy and determined are still out and about and the forecast is much improved for tomorrow. I am hoping that will be the case because we need at least fine-ish weather for the gentle and melodic guitar music by Dominique Blatti from 1pm onwards.

What is affirming is the overwhelmingly positive response from visitors. We were nervous about the meadow – would people relate to it or would New Zealanders see it as full of weeds? Fortunately the reactions have been the former and if anybody at all has thought the latter, they have been too polite to tell us. Ditto the new summer gardens – would people see them as part of the interconnected whole of the garden or would they see them as disconnected, too jarringly different in character? The former option triumphs. This is all music to our ears.

Eight more days until we close the gates again to visitors.

23 thoughts on “Aaand… we are open again

  1. Tim Dutton

    What a fantastic start! You must have been astounded by the numbers who were so eager to see your garden, though I have to say it is the chance to see your garden again that has us visiting Taranaki this year come rain or shine.
    We love the Pied Piper shot and thank goodness for Lloyd 🙂

    1. Abbie Jury Post author

      Are you coming in private cars, rather than a small coach? If you can give me an approximate time, hopefully I can give you all an introductory chat? We look forward to seeing you and hope the weather improves!

  2. elainebolitho

    So pleased to hear about the approval of the visitors, their co-operation with scanning the code, and full Marks to Lloyd for quietly, safely ‘unparking’ the stuck car. Sounds a successful start to the season – just hope it was finer in Taran aki than in Wellington at 1pm for your guitarist.

    Blessings for all the festival days ahead


    1. Abbie Jury Post author

      The guitarist cancelled today which is just as well because it absolutely hosed down. But the forecast for tomorrow is better. Many thanks for your good wishes.

  3. Sarah Norling

    I was at your garden this morning Abbie and absolutely loved it. We loved the summer gardens, a great bold contrast to the older and shaded areas. The grasses (Miscanthus etc) looked superb. Having followed your garden through your blog posts, it was very rewarding to see it in person, knowing the background thinking and processes. Thank you for deciding to open it up again for the enjoyment of so many.

  4. Vaughan Gallavan

    Congratulations. Your garden remains the high point of my 2014 tour of the North Island. I’m pleased to see that you are opening again. Best wishes

  5. Sue Londesborough

    I do admire you for opening your garden on this scale. It makes our garden openings seem puny in comparison! I would love to visit if I ever visit NZ again. I feel I know the garden quite well from reading your posts.

  6. Pat Webster

    Congratulations, Abbie and Mark. It’s clear that people love what you are doing. and rightly so.

  7. robynkiltygardensnz

    Congratulations Abbie – so good when your vision and hard work is really appreciated. Meanwhile I’ve done 2 days of garden visiting here in North Canterbury where the Hurunui Garden Festival has been happening. Quite a different kettle of fish to Taranaki Gardens I imagine – all good and all interesting!

  8. Nancy Strybosch

    Thanks Abby and Mark and company for the phenomenal effort you have made in preparing your Garden for the Festival and its crowds of visitors..It is truly magnificent.
    Three times I have visited and will surely be back if you ever decide to open again
    I have to admit we scurried through the area under the giant pines up the top after we looked skyward and saw them lashing around in the wind That was just before the rain really set in on Saturday .
    Having read on your blog in the past about big tree casualties did not fancy being in the wrong place at the wrong time!
    Safely negotiated out of the crowded car park aided by your director, without encountering any obstacles, like the unfortunate stump.
    We saw a lot of gardens big and small over the following 3 days, but yours was my standout.

    1. Abbie Jury Post author

      Oh Nancy, how kind of you to take the time to write. We are so glad to hear that your really enjoyed it. We don’t linger under the pines in windy conditions; there are reasons why there are no seats in the Avenue Garden.

      Parking was a nightmare! That and the day the septic tank failed…

  9. Pamela

    Lovely to see your garden at last. Is there any way I can send you a photo to ID? Maybe a burgundy passiflora?

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