Words and pictures: Michael McCoy
This spring garden festival focused around Blenheim, New Zealand, is like no other festival I’ve ever experienced. The concentration of truly world-class gardens within an hour’s of drive of Blenheim would put it on any global gardening map, but it’s the quality of organisation and phenomenal hospitality that makes this festival unique. The only way to visit the gardens that are open during the festival is on a day-long, or half-day coach tour which, depending on length, includes a fabulous lunch in one of the gardens, and both morning and afternoon tea. The garden owners welcome you as if it’s a privilege to have you come, when all you’re aware of as a visitor is the amazing privilege it is to see these extraordinary gardens. The event traverses four days, and you’ll return with your garden vision and enthusiasm both re-charged and reframed.
Barewood remains one of the most delightful country gardens I’ve seen anywhere in the world. White wisteria frames the wide, wicker-furnished verandahs, and a good strong structure of lawns and long vistas is draped in rich, sumptuous, colour-coded planting. I can guarantee you’ll just want to move in, and never leave.
Paripuma is a domestic garden with a stupendous vision – to explore the possibilities of using New Zealand natives in the formal arrangement of a huge European garden. The scale of the end result is mind-blowing, and the immensely long main vista aligns with a mountain peak on the other side of an ocean bay.
Within the ‘burbs’ of Blenheim, Moritake plays with Japanese themes rendered with mostly New Zealand natives. It can take an inordinately long time to get down the drive, as Australian visitors are invariably spellbound by the pristine stands of Marlborough daisy. And beyond lies a real gem of lovely, subtle landscape construction combined with perfect plant selection and placement.
Tickets to the festival go on sale on July 22. Check gardenmarlborough.co.nz for details.
Michael McCoy leads our tour to Garden Marlborough, which also includes Frensham Garden, Queen Charlotte Sound Delivery Cruise, Hortensia House, Wither Hill Wines and much more. Call 1300 233 200 or go to rosstours.com.au for more details.
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