Stunning designer gardens at Auckland Garden DesignFest 2015

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. Continue reading “Stunning designer gardens at Auckland Garden DesignFest 2015”

Book Review: ‘Lessons from Great Gardeners’

Lessons from Great Gardeners‘ is an inviting book. First, in terms of content. Forty ‘gardening icons’ – gardeners, garden designers and/or garden owners – are profiled, many with emphasis on one garden to which each has devoted a significant part of his or her life. You absorb their practical skills in terms of knowledge and experience. You respond to their creative ideas and their passion for gardens. You learn from them. Continue reading “Book Review: ‘Lessons from Great Gardeners’”

Which gardens make your heart sing?

When I first took an interest in garden design, it was all about the look. Some combination of colours, textures and forms would jump out at me from a page and I would ooh and aah about how beautiful it was. Continue reading “Which gardens make your heart sing?”

Garden oddities – floral clocks

One of the horticultural oddities of the last century is the floral clock. Most of us have encountered them from time to time during our travels, often sighted on gentle slopes in manicured public gardens at tourist destinations. Apart from a moment’s thought at the sophistication of the technology and the intricate plantings used by the designers, most of these outdoor landscapes are soon forgotten. Continue reading “Garden oddities – floral clocks”

Garden travel to broaden your mind

I am about to jump on a plane and head off to France to lead a tour of gardens and châteaux of Normandy and the Loire Valley and if you haven’t booked it’s a bit late now! But the idea of travelling across the world to see gardens and gardening that I may well have little hope of emulating started me thinking. Is it just horticultural eye candy or is there more to it than that? Continue reading “Garden travel to broaden your mind”

That’s what gardeners do

You can always pick gardeners on holidays. They have these funny habits they indulge when they are away from their familiar terrain. I speak both of my own behaviour and from watching fellow flora enthusiasts. Continue reading “That’s what gardeners do”

Auckland to Ayrlies – with cocktails

Having been lucky enough to lead more than a dozen garden tours to various parts of Europe, Japan and Australasia over the last 10 years, I’ve recently returned from a garden tour of New Zealand by cruise ship. It’s my first experience of conducting a garden tour this way but I hope it won’t be the last. I thought I’d share a typical day with you, which also gives me the chance to write about one of the best gardens we visited, Ayrlies, just outside Auckland. Continue reading “Auckland to Ayrlies – with cocktails”

Garden tour of Great Barrier Island, NZ

Last year I overdid it, positively gorged myself, on garden travel. But just after enjoying a wonderful weekend at the Melbourne Garden DesignFest in the middle of November, there was one more tour that couldn’t be missed. For the last couple of years, three friends and I have headed off to Great Barrier Island, just off the coast of the North Island of New Zealand, for their superbly organised ‘Spectacular by Nature’ Garden Tour. Continue reading “Garden tour of Great Barrier Island, NZ”

New Zealand’s geothermal vegetation

During our recent holiday on New Zealand’s North Island, we saw ecosystems that were so different to South Australia’s landscapes that they seemed positively alien. The apparent darkness of a glow worm cave gradually brightening to become a miniature replica of the Milky Way was memorable… but nothing was more eerie than the geothermal areas we visited. Continue reading “New Zealand’s geothermal vegetation”

New Zealand native garden – Te Kainga Marire

It’s so easy to take our own environment for granted, and so much easier to value and appreciate differences when we travel overseas. From the video promoting the Taranaki Garden Festival, the open gardens featured are stunning, but I was surprised that nearly all seem to have a distinctly English flavour. On the other hand, perhaps not so surprising for a country settled not only by the Maori people but also by the English, and which measures its annual rainfall in metres. Continue reading “New Zealand native garden – Te Kainga Marire”

Pukeiti Gardens, New Zealand

The wonderful thing about being a gardener on vacation is that, no matter where you are in the world, you meet people who love plants. The climate may be different, the plants may be different, but that joy of all things green and growing, of creating a beautiful environment, also creates an instant connection we recognise in each other. It’s exhilarating.


Continue reading “Pukeiti Gardens, New Zealand”