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Shining start for Ellerslie Flower Show

Shining start for Ellerslie International Flower Show

The weather gods smiled on the Ellerslie International Flower Show yesterday, defying predictions of rain to lay on a sunny, warm first day for New Zealand’s premier garden event.

Show General Manager Dave Mee said he had been watching the weather for the past 12 days, and the only prediction he could make was that it was going to be unpredictable. But even if the weather is inclement, there’s a lot to see and do in the big marquees.

His advice for those intending to visit the show is that if the day dawned fine – as it did yesterday, despite heavy overnight rain – they should drop everything and go.

Between 8000 and 10,000 people did just that yesterday, making the most of the sunshine at the Auckland Botanic Gardens site in Manurewa.

The exhibition gardens are a great success, says Mee, with many visitors noticing how many more flowers they feature this year. Based on feedback from previous years, organisers had encouraged designers to include more flowers, and Mee estimates the gardens used 50% more this year.

One emerging trend is the way designers are mixing grasses, foliage and flowers in new ways. Design Director Karen Lowther says the mixing of perennials and natives stands out and “perennials and roses are back in”.

Judges have also been impressed, says Mee, unanimously commenting on the high standard of entries.

As well as the exhibition gardens and floral displays, visitors are also enjoying being entertained at the Manukau City Cultural Performance Garden and the food demonstrations by chef Paul Jobin every 90 minutes.

Show Retail Manager Paula Taylor says sales are going well for the 150 retail exhibitors, with many reporting an increase in the number of purchases this year.

Judge, gardening writer and commentator Rachel Vogan personally escorted 30 people around the show for the Ellerslie Elite Experience yesterday morning, and says they were all impressed by the standard of the gardens.

Particular favourites are Xanthe White’s 100% Pure New Zealand Garden, which won silver-gilt at the Chelsea Flower Show, and the Blooms of Bressingham Contemporary New Zealand Garden, winner of this year’s Supreme Award for Horticultural Excellence.

The 2006 Ellerslie International Flower Show continues over the next four days at Auckland Botanic Gardens. Opening hours are 10am-6pm Thursday and Friday, 10am-8.30pm Saturday and 10am-6pm Sunday.


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