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Ellerslie In Bloom

25 October 2006

Ellerslie In Bloom

Twelve Years of Ellerslie Glory Celebrated in the Avenue of Gold

The history of the Ellerslie International Flower Show will be the focus of a new feature, the Visique Avenue of Gold, where past gold-award winning stars will present a new garden of their choice.

Since the first show in 1994, the Ellerslie International Flower Show has grown at an incredible rate with 70,000 people visiting in 2005. Many changes have occurred over this time.

“The major change is the move in 1998 to the Show’s current, permanent, home at the Auckland Regional Botanic Gardens,” says former exhibitor and judge, now Exhibition Manager, Kate Hillier. “The move was necessitated by the extraordinary and overwhelming success of the first year. Attendance figures for 2005 were over 70,000 people and this is expected to increase again this year.”

Modelled on the famous Chelsea Flower Show in England, the Ellerslie International Flower Show was established by members of the Rotary Club of Auckland who sold the business in 2004, at which time the Ellerslie Flower Show Charitable Trust took over operations.

“The sophistication of the exhibits has grown since that first Show, keeping up with the demand and expectations of the public for more inspirational and adventurous garden designs year upon year,” explains Hillier. “2006 is no exception with even more exhibitors and retailers heading to the Botanic Gardens for the Show.”

“We felt the concept of the Avenue of Gold was so good and showed such a commitment to excellence that it was the clincher for us in signing the naming rights sponsorship partnership,” explains Michelle Lawson, General Manager of Visique.

Many of the designers featured in the Visique Avenue of Gold have been exhibiting since the very first show and have their own experience on how the event has changed over the past twelve years:

Blue Gecko Ltd Ben Hoyle

While only twenty-eight, Ben Hoyle is a veteran of five Ellerslie International Flower Shows and five medals. Ben says the show has become more contemporary over the years following trends in architecture and is now more reflective of how we live our modern lives.

His ‘Contemporary Kiwi’ garden, included in the Avenue of Gold, is a definitive modern kiwi garden with a high emphasis on plants, a feature often lacking in contemporary or modernist garden settings, as well as elements of stainless steel and glass.

Ben has a real love of New Zealand plants and has created this garden with his favourites that reflect the region he lives in: the Kapiti Coast just north of Wellington.

Auckland Botanic Gardens

The Auckland Botanic Gardens has been involved since the very first year and has witnessed the event going from an exciting new concept to a commercial entity and back to being about the plants first and foremost.

“The Show has been a real boost to the horticulture industry within New Zealand and it’s now a high profile industry recognised for the wealth of home-grown talent increasingly being noticed internationally,” says Roger Price of the Auckland Botanic Gardens. Their display in the Avenue of Gold will be a re-creation of their new Native Ideas garden.

Eden Gardens

The team of volunteer gardeners at Eden Gardens are all truly passionate about what they do. Head Gardener, Stuart Ferries says he has noticed more clubs competing in the event over the last few years.

“I think that’s a great way to highlight specific plant species and to aid in the membership drive that is often harder with the time-poor generation,” says Stuart. “The standard of displays and the grooming of the plants is also much higher than when the Show first began. It’s now on a par with overseas shows, especially our floral displays that are excellent.”

The Auckland Bonsai Club

The invite to return to the Ellerslie International Flower Show comes at a fortuitous time with The Auckland Bonsai Club celebrating its fortieth anniversary this year.

Dennis Pringle, Vice President of the Club, expressed his excitement about the new show features this year. “The Show seems to be more aimed at the general public this year with ideas they can use in their own gardens. Sometimes, the Show has been a showcase for the unattainable or for surreal gardens, but I’m very glad to see that for Joe Bloggs, there will be many exhibits that show just what you can do in your own backyard.”

Yates Norma De Langen

Since graduating top student with a Diploma of Landscape Design from Unitec in 2000, Norma has been designing and implementing residential gardens covering a wide range of styles and budgets throughout the Auckland region.

She says the Show this year is a return to an emphasis on the design element of the gardens: “The other major change for the exhibitors is that the standards are higher and therefore the costs to display are a lot more than back in 1994. There is also a notable balance that is being created between the need for traditional gardens and the need for experimental or modernist gardens – that balance has swung from extremes over the years but is balancing out well now so that there is room for everyone.”

Living Earth Landscaping Tim Feather

Tim has been involved with the Ellerslie International Flower Show since the first show and, this year, his garden is concentrated on the multicultural nature of our society: “I call it interweaving,” explains Tim. “By highlighting the origins of the different plants from the Pacific, Asia, New Zealand and Europe, we are interweaving through plant selection.”

In bloom for a mere six days a year, each Ellerslie International Flower Show takes a meticulous level of careful planning and organisation and, as a result, the end product is a sight to behold. New Zealand’s varied climate and eclectic blend of horticultural style brings a unique flavour to the show, and the 2006 Show looks set to be another winner when it opens to the public on November 15.


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