Thursday, December 9

Taranaki Garden Festival flourishes ‘in a time of turmoil’

With events banned from the calendar around it, the Taranaki Garden Festival has defied the odds to make it to the starting line today.

Taranaki Garden Festival Director Tetsu Garnett

The director of the Taranaki Garden Festival, Tetsu Garnett.
Photo: RNZ / Robin Martin

It promises a celebration of spring color, perfect for chasing off the Covid blues.

Already faced with the loss of their sponsors from Auckland and Waikato, the organizers of the Taranaki Garden Festival had eagerly watched Christmas at the Bowl, the Stratford A&P Show and the Taranaki Masters Games being canceled.

Festival director Tetsu Garnett said he was lucky that its format allowed large crowds not to gather in one place at a time.

“Because we have 43 gardens scattered around the mountain, we can go under those restrictions and then we have the scan in place, everyone is going to scan, we are encouraging the use of masks, the use of hand sanitizer and the social distancing of people you don’t know. “

She said that those who could do so would not be disappointed.

“The gardens look amazing. I am standing here at Three Elms right now in Westown and they have been preparing all year long. They have been waiting for our visitors to arrive, sharing their gardening stories and showing off our Taranaki manaakitanga.”

Garnett had a hard time choosing his favorite garden this year.

“We are bringing peace and harmony in a time of turmoil in New Zealand, so I think promoting beauty in the garden is probably my favorite thing right now.”

Lisa McNab is the co-creator of Three Elms Garden with her husband Shane.

Lisa McNab created the Garden of Three Elms in New Plymouth with her husband Shane.

Lisa McNab created the Garden of Three Elms in New Plymouth with her husband Shane.
Photo: RNZ / Robin Martin

A steep, multi-layered suburban New Plymouth creation, the garden was full of surprises, Lisa said.

“We have a love for all kinds of things and ours has a pretty tropical and traditional base, so if there’s something you like, you’ll probably find it here. But we like to think that we have some combinations and things that maybe you might not. Let’s look elsewhere. So we love it. It’s fun. “

And then there are the hand-built rock walls.

“So there are Shane’s babies … they’ve all come by hand or wheelbarrow. Some of them went out through the neighbor’s hedges and rolled up and sometimes he was only able to make a few in a day because they are so Big and so heavy. I had the help of a neighbor or a friend when they were too heavy to mistreat them. “

The festival also incorporates the open studios of 84 artists participating in the Taranaki Arts Trail.

Janette Theobald is exhibiting felt in her New Plymouth studio.

“I make wet felt, which basically consists of using the natural properties of wool plus water plus friction to turn it into fabric. It is one of the oldest textiles in the world.”

Felter Janette Leobald in her New Plymouth studio.

Felter Janette Leobald in her New Plymouth studio.
Photo: RNZ / Robin Martin

Leobold will teach classes and preach the virtues of wool.

“It is an opportunity to talk about the natural properties of wool in contrast to the things that are not biodegradable, the fibers and textiles that are used these days, and the opportunity that we have to do things easily ourselves. The pleasure to make and wear what we are. Really good in New Zealand, and that’s making wool. “

And if that wasn’t enough, there are also 27 properties in a Taranaki sustainable backyard trial.

Karen Newbrook was braving the rain in her sustainable garden on Mangorei Road outside New Plymouth.

Karen Newbrook in her sustainable garden on Mangorei Road

Karen Newbrook braves the rain in her sustainable garden on Mangorei Road outside New Plymouth.
Photo: RNZ / Robin Martin

“Well I have a photo book inside dry … but we started with an acre of pasture for cows with a trough in the middle 10 years ago and have been in the house eight years starting next week and everything here it has been set by us. “

In addition to a vegetable garden and extensive orchards, Karen and her husband Mark were one of the first people in the region to embrace the power of tiger worms for wastewater treatment.

“The Wormorator in that big tank, that’s the first big tank there and in the paddock is the drop and it is the ideal situation because it is on a slope so it goes away from the house and where it is green. I can see where it is. green that is the overflow of the sewage outlet “.

During the festival, the Newbrooks will offer workshops to analyze the numbers of solar energy that helps heat your home and charge your car.

Last year, the 10-day garden festival generated $ 4.2 million in Taranaki’s economy, up from $ 2.6 million in 2019.

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