2021 Taranaki Garden Festival

Words by  Virginia Winder
Waionganga Garden by Jane Dove Juneau Waionganga Garden by Jane Dove Juneau

There are 154 reasons to explore Taranaki this spring.

 A collaboration of 43 gardens, 84 artists and 27 sustainable backyards makes the region an exciting place for visitors and local folk, says Taranaki Garden Festival manager Tetsu Garnett. 

“Leading on from the success of last year’s huge festival, the growth has not stopped – we have more gardens, more artists and a bunch of new sustainable backyards,” she says.

People from around New Zealand flocked to the 2020 garden festival, which collaborated with the Taranaki Arts Trail for the first time and continued its relationship with the Taranaki Sustainable Backyards Trail. 

Tetsu says bookings indicate this year’s festival, on from October 29 to November 7, will produce another bumper crop of visitors.

“The festival last year gave our gardeners a real boost because they loved seeing everybody come to visit,” Tetsu says. 

An important aspect of the festival is keeping it fresh so visitors and locals will always be surprised.

“Not only are there four new entries in our 34th garden festival, but our gardeners are forever developing new areas to change things up.”

At Tikorangi, The Jury Garden owners Abbie and Mark are opening their Wild North Garden, and at Opunake, Jo Collins has re-developed the driveway at Boxwood.

In New Plymouth, Three Elms Garden owners Lisa and Shane McNab have finished the front entrance and at the back, have revamped the veggie patch area.

Another major change is moving the Festival Hub into the Volkswagen Taranaki showroom at W.R. Phillips on Devon St West at 156 Devon St West.

“People can come to buy their tickets and be able to talk to our dedicated festival gurus to create an itinerary to drive around the mountain,” Tetsu says.

There is also a line-up of events, including the Mitre 10 Garden Speaker Series, community events, guided walks and tours and Discover Taranaki offerings. 

“Our festival gardeners are really putting themselves out there so people can have a good time,” Tetsu says.

Taranaki Arts Trail co-ordinator Niki Jenkinson says many of the region’s artists will also be on the frontline when they open their studios for the two weekends of the garden festival.

Of the 84 artists in the trail, 44 are opening for the entire 10 days.

“That’s a fantastic outcome and it fits in better with the collaboration with the Taranaki Garden Festival.”

Another difference is the increase in artist numbers – 28 who have never been on the trail before and 9 returning artists who are back after a break. 

“We are getting artists further afield, especially in south Taranaki, and then north with Urenui,” Niki says. “The fact we have so many new ones is so encouraging.”

Taranaki Sustainable Backyards Trail project manager Erin Strampel says there are 27 open properties in the event and 16 of those are new entrants. 

“The main aim is to inspire everyday people to start bringing those sustainable practices into their own backyards by talking to the garden hosts and getting tips on really simple things you can get started on – it doesn’t matter where you are on your journey.”

Erin says there is a wide variety of backyards in the trail, from alpine gardens to beach front properties growing on sand, along with culturally significant gardens.

Opening dates and times of sustainable backyards are in the programme, along with details about events, talks, demonstrations and informal tours.

Please note: Frog Lodge owners David and Noeline Sampson have had to withdraw from this year’s garden festival after David injured both his legs. He is expecting a full recovery. 

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