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Plans Unveiled For Largest Garden Ever

14 October 2004

Plans Unveiled For Largest Garden Ever Seen At Ellerslie Flower Show

Six weeks of hard slog ­ that's all that stands between Waikato landscape designer Murray Lye and his ambitious plan for the largest outdoor garden ever seen at the Ellerslie Flower Show in Auckland.

The 1200-square metre Celebration Garden is sponsored by Pacific Retail Finance and will mark the 10th anniversary of New Zealand's flagship gardening event, held at the Auckland Regional Botanic Gardens in Manukau City from November 23-28.

A team of up to 20 specialist landscape contractors, designers and gardeners will work 10-hour days for the next six weeks to complete the Celebration Garden, which includes a dramatic 12-metre Roman arch crafted by the set designers from the Lord of the Rings.

Ten days into the massive eight week construction project, more than 300 tonnes of crushed concrete block and 400-square metres of paving have formed the foundations, while 10-metre tall telegraph poles now dwarf the backdrop of native totara trees.

Lye, a six-year Ellerslie Flower Show veteran who has won gold for his designs for the past two years running, has been working on the Celebration Garden since April.

"It's all going to plan, although we have had a few hiccups," Lye says. "I'd ordered some amazing new fibre-optic lights from a company in Florida but the recent hurricanes blew their warehouse to bits and destroyed the lot, so we've come up with a Plan B to use stunning halogens instead."

Simon Farrell from Terragona Landscape Contractors is in charge of the hard landscaping and construction process, with all paving and the majority of landscape materials generously supplied by Stevenson.

The exact details of the design are being kept under wraps until the show opens on November 23 but Lye says it will reflect the Ellerslie Flower Show's 10-year history as well as the progression of landscape design in New Zealand. Thousands of flowering annuals, lush subtropicals and native ferns will be planted around bold water features that pump 150,000 litres of water through the garden.

Pacific Retail Finance funding manager John Price says PRF is delighted to be supporting the Celebration Garden. "Gardening and investment have compelling parallels, with both requiring regular care and attention to thrive and prosper," he says.

"For Pacific Retail Finance investors, it's all about watching their debenture stock deliver good, solid returns over time ­ much as gardeners get to enjoy the rewards from a carefully tended plot," Price says.

The Celebration Garden is one of a number of exciting new initiatives at the 10th Anniversary Ellerslie Flower Show.

For the first time, the show will open with a special late-night gala evening, including a jazz concert by the Nathan Haines Quintet, a three-course meal, wines from Matua Valley Wines and the first opportunity to see the gold medal-winning New Zealand garden from the Chelsea Flower Show in London.

The 10th Anniversary Ellerslie Flower is also open until 10pm on Friday November 26 and Saturday November 27, enabling landscape designers to incorporate spectacular lighting effects in their show gardens.

Tickets to the 10th anniversary Ellerslie Flower Show are on sale now at Ticketek. Phone: (09) 307 5000 or Early bird discounts apply until October 31.

Caption: Landscape contractor Simon Farrell, left, and designer Murray Lye will spend the next six weeks developing the largest outdoor garden ever seen at the Ellerslie Flower Show in Auckland.


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