The programme for this year’s garden festival was launched this week. It is huge. Not only are there 43 gardens around the province open for the main attraction, now named the Centuria Taranaki Garden Festival, but there are a whole lot of related garden-themed events. And wait there is more. Running alongside that are the 30 gardens opening for the Sustainable Backyards Trail and in addition to that, the Taranaki Arts Trail is also affiliated and there are 79 artists who are opening their studios at this time.
It is going to be a busy 10 days from Friday, October 28 to Sunday, November 10. The full programme is available on line here or you can request or pick up a paper copy.
Naturally, it is our little corner of the programme that interests us most. It is the only time of the year we open our garden to the public these days. Fortunately, given the scale of the programme this year, we are very easy to find, being right at the front as garden number one. The numbering starts from the north and we are lucky to be the northernmost garden.
I am not offering workshops this year, just a few scheduled garden tours. But we are delighted to have Jennifer Duval-Smith joining us as artist in residence this year. Jennifer is an Auckland botanical artist and she is offering workshops here on Nature Journaling. How to explain Nature Journaling? The full details on her workshops are here but my description of it would be that it is more immediate and therefore probably more rewarding for the beginner than the esoteric rigour required for botanical art. It is certainly less technical and more about combining observation skills with the confidence to capture the delight quickly in colour and form on paper.
Jennifer is offering four workshops on different topics:
* Meadow and Wildflowers of the Wild North Garden
* Flowers and Plants of the Woodlands
* Rhododendron – the Grandeur and the Glory
* Flowers of the Early Summer Garden
Jennifer’s own website is here for more information about her approach and her own work. Bookings need to be made through the festival website and with numbers limited to eight per workshop, it may be advisable not to procrastinate too long if you are interested.
On an entirely different topic, we are equally delighted to be the venue for a Music in the Garden event on our main lawn on the first Sunday of festival. La Mer is a four-piece group playing music which is a blend of gypsy swing and French Café-style jazz. I can’t post video on this site but for a sample of the music, click through to my Facebook page. It is perfect garden music and we have our fingers crossed for a fine afternoon with people lounging – physically distanced as is the way these days – across our front lawn enjoying the ambience and sound.
Alas, this event is weather dependent. We can’t move indoors for this one. I will be terribly disappointed if the weather gods fail to cooperate. There is no need to book for this event and there is no additional charge other than entry to the garden.
We have a large main lawn. I mention this for the Covid-cautious. Social distancing should not be a problem. Goodness knows what the state of Covid will be in three months’ time but we fall very much into the Covid-cautious camp here and we will be doing everything we can to keep ourselves and our visitors safe.
We are now at the point of the year where everything here is geared towards opening for the festival. I will admit there are times when we have doubts about continuing to open but it is a terrific event for our province and very affirming to have visitors who enjoy the fruits of our labour.
In a world dominated by the ongoing impact of Covid, the garden festival this year shines like a bright light of cheer in a relatively safe environment and there is a lot to be said for that.