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Wednesday 14 April 2010

Gorgeous gardens open up this weekend

Posted in: Events
By Gill Franklin, Chair of Heroic Gardens - 2nd March 2010

The enormously popular annual two-day Heroic Gardens Festival is set to showcase the creativity and hard work of gay and lesbian gardeners this weekend.

Peter & Mark in Mt Eden
The Auckland-wide event opens 32 gardens to the public this year and is now the city's only region-wide garden festival.

Gay and lesbian gardeners might admit that they are a queer and quirky bunch. Their choice of plants and garden layout says much about who they are. There are the stately, the fruitful and the restful gardens and then there are the vibrantly, colourful with the odd provocative sculpture to reflect an attitude.

The Heroic Gardens Festival, now in its 14th year, has raised over $460,000 for good causes.  Auckland's eight hospices, including South Auckland Hospice, will again benefit from Heroic Gardens - last year $30,000 was raised for them.

More than 50 gay and lesbian gardeners are out, and fronting up in the media, and in person in their gardens, to a large New Zealand audience.

The festival gardens are spread from Whangaparaoa to Waiuku and from Piha to Orakei.  Heroic Gardeners do live in Herne Bay but they also inhabit and flourish in Mt Roskill, Hillsborough, Pukekohe and other not so exotic places. 


Four large rural gardens in the Pukekohe-Waiuku area are included, along with many smaller city gardens, as well as the James Wallace Trust's Rannoch Sculpture Forest tucked on the volcanic slope of Mt Eden. 

Our pick of some special gardens for readers are:

Peter Brady's iconic garden nestled around a Spanish Mission-style bungalow in Mt Eden will attract many to see this garden with its prized specimen plants, vibrant sub-tropicals, bird life and fabulous sculptures. Photos of Peter Brady and landscaper Mark van Katthoven in the garden illustrate this article.

Halmer Searle and Alan Bettesworth's garden has subtropical splendour and a hint of Balinese flavour.  There are public and as well as more intimate spaces, sculpture and water features with bromeliads and fabulous flowers and foliage in abundance.  Take a peek – you will enjoy.

Kelliher Estate – Puketutu Island.  If you haven't been there, it is time you did, and why not go for lunch.  Grahame Dawson and Alex Ross, of Dawson’s Catering, present a unique opportunity to visit this magnificent homestead and garden with mature subtropical and native plantings, fale and water features.  The garden and homestead will be open to viewing on Sunday only.  Refreshments and lunch (including the bottle of Moet of course) are available. 

Another not to be missed is Olaf John's subtropical garden in Mt Roskill.  For an action video go to his website

The Heroic Gardens Festival

6 & 7 March 2010

Get your official Heroic Gardens Festival 2010 programme and tickets from Kings Plant Barns or Palmers Gardenworld Centres, selected retailers including Unity books, Time Out and the Women's Bookshop.

Tickets are $30 and valid for both days - visitors can also buy online or pay at the gate on the day for $5 each garden.

Gill Franklin, Chair of Heroic Gardens - 2nd March 2010

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