If you have been thinking of visiting New Zealand, don’t miss this one-off opportunity to see the work of some of our top designers in private gardens that bring out the best of Auckland’s iconic landscape. From the famous volcanic cones throughout the city to the backdrop of sea and harbour in the spectacular Hauraki Gulf, you will come away entranced.
The inaugural Auckland Garden DesignFest was held in 2011, so that it could dovetail on alternate years with the Melbourne version, which Members of the Garden Design Society of New Zealand had been visiting regularly since 2006. Initially we enjoyed the generous hospitality of tour leader Beverley Read, who always went out of her way to make us feel welcome and even helped us arrange our own extra garden-seeking jaunts. Spurred by our enjoyment of these trips, we decided to set up our own event with the Rotary Club of Newmarket to help raise much-needed funds for children’s charities while at the same time showcasing the talents of our leading garden designers.
This year, our third DesignFest promises to be the best ever, with 16 designers and 20 gardens stretching from the North Shore to clusters in the central suburbs from St Heliers in the east to Pt Chevalier in the west. Styles range from a variety of contrasting small courtyards cleverly configured to make the most of our penchant for the indoor/outdoor lifestyle, to grand masterpieces of sweeping proportions and unbelievable views. Here is a small sample to whet your appetite.
Trudy Crerar demonstrates her experience, skill and originality with three totally different gardens created in response to their owners’ requirements and three widely contrasting sites. To illustrate just one example: in a tiny space in one of Auckland’s most historic streets, she came up with a Moorish garden designed to seduce the senses and it does that and more. Descriptions could never do it justice – it has to be seen to appreciate how she has executed this extraordinary vision with such confidence and masterful workmanship.
Designer Robin Shafer has a strongly architectural bent and her three gardens also show the depth of her experience and ability to work with her clients, whatever their knowledge or desires. One of them – an extensive formal garden – features five bronze urns shipped over from Rhode Island. They are dye-cast moulds taken from some of the original limestone urns of the grand Mansions of Newport. The owners have been extensively involved and even planted the majority of this vast garden themselves. Wandering through the different areas is a serene experience to be savoured slowly.
One long-established courtyard garden in Remuera by Bryan McDonald shows how good design gets better with age. An outdoor gallery theme for a 90’s townhouse uses a series of grids to mirror and exaggerate the angular lines of the architecture. The owners’ collection of outdoor sculpture is framed and enhanced within the landscape, from both inside the house and outside in the garden.
In contrast to her gardens in previous festivals, designer Jo Hamilton has created a remarkably effective ‘naturalistic journey’ for the owners of a much-loved transitional villa, reminiscent of the the annual Venice Garden and Home Tour near Los Angeles, California. Two circular ‘mirror’ lawns – one slightly tilted – are an inspired answer to the natural contour of the site, with raised vegetable gardens and espaliered fruit trees adding height and exuberance as they hum with pollinating bees in summer.
Trish Bartleet transports visitors and owners alike to the tropical delights of Bali with her rendition of paradise in Westmere. No-one knows how to recreate this atmosphere quite like Trish, yet she has often demonstrated her ability to respond to her clients’ dreams with a variety of themes and stylistic interpretations in other gardens, always with a strength of vision based firmly on her artistic and architectural abilities.
Auckland has a planting designer who is second to none. Barbara Garrett’s skills and years of experience are strongly evident in her magnificent offering this year. While giving the owners the privacy they needed, Barbara has succeeded in keeping view shafts from both the house and garden through to Cornwall Park and One Tree Hill in the background – a remarkable feat. Enclosed areas allow for private outdoor relaxing and dining just a stone’s throw from the lambs frolicking in the park beyond.
Sue & Colin McLean have two gardens this year – a desirably elegant courtyard in Takapuna and an empathetically naturalistic response to an untouched waterfront site on Meola Reef. Guardian sculptures by Anton Forde frame the view to perfection and the owners can now access the water easily with their kayaks as required.
There are 8 more designers involved – among them multiple award-winning Xanthe White and radio and TV gardening personality Tony Murrell – and they all have something special to offer in the wide array of gardens on display over the two-day event.
Navigating is made easy by joining our bus tour with highly experienced guides – Penny Cliffin and Anna-Maria Morris – who will look after your every need with tour notes, delightful picnic box lunches in one of the gardens, coffee and afternoon tea breaks at interesting points around the harbour and much more besides. See our website for more: Auckland Garden DesignFest