I’m back, and all smiles

I’m just back from Nelmac Garden Marlborough – a garden festival like no other, based in Blenheim, in the Northern-most part of the South Island of New Zealand.

I boldly state ‘like no other’ for two reasons. 

Paripuma - a private garden entirely of NZ natives

Paripuma – a private garden entirely of NZ natives

I honestly can’t think of anywhere in Australia where you could set out for a full day in a coach and visit four or five gardens of this phenomenal quality, and potentially do this for the three days on which they’re offered (and even then have to miss one full day garden tour, for there’s four of them to choose from (not to mention the half-day tour of urban gardens that you’d have to miss, and the Queen Charlotte Sound Tour).  And while there’s sure to be other places in the world where this is theoretically possible, I can’t imagine there’s many where the theoretical possibility has so wonderfully become a reality.

Paripuma again - Xeronema in the foreground

Paripuma again – Xeronema in the foreground

The other thing that sets NCM apart is the incredible hospitality.  On each of the full day tours you’re given morning tea, lunch and afternoon tea in the gardens themselves, and its dished up with the incredible sense that the garden owners are greatly privileged to have you, and more privileged still to feed you while you’re there.  I’ve never seen, or known, anything like it (other than when I was there previously).

Barewood

Barewood

Barewood

Barewood

Yes, I was a guest speaker, but that made no difference to how I was treated.  I went on those bus trips largely incognito (due to the arrival of the beard, which wasn’t included in the promo shots), and was blown away by the gracious way we were hosted by our tour guides on the buses, the garden owners, and the apparently countless volunteers associated with Nelmac Garden Marlborough.

I wish I had good pics of more of the gardens, but both days were bright and sunny, making photography nearly impossible.

But as for Nelmac Garden Marlborough, I honestly can’t recommend it highly enough…

Me sniffing 'Coral Charm' peonies at the Saturday evening cocktail party at Timara Lodge

Me sniffing ‘Coral Charm’ peonies at the Saturday evening cocktail party at Timara Lodge

Winterhome

Winterhome

Winterhome

Winterhome

The Old Bankhouse - the garden of mine host

The Old Bankhouse – the garden of mine host

The Old Bankhouse

The Old Bankhouse

Moritaki

Moritaki

Moritaki again..

Moritaki again..

 

 

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20 thoughts on “I’m back, and all smiles

  1. Wow! The Xeronema callistemon in the top photos look amazing. I wouldn’t have thought they’d do ok as far south as Nelson/Marlborough. I used to have a huge one (in a broken wired-together terracotta pot, they love being rootbound) in Auckland but had to send back there after I moved to Hawke’s Bay and it threatened to cark it the first winter after getting the merest touch of frost. They naturally grow right down to the rocky shoreline on the Poor Knights Islands in the Hauraki Gulf off Auckland and benefit from having the occasional bucket of seawater chucked on them.

  2. I also really enjoyed my day at the Garden Marlborough Festival. Amazing and inspirational gardens and you were great company too.
    Have just finished reading your book which I could only put down to look up what plant you were referring to!
    Thanks again – I hope you have received my e mail?

  3. Michael, barring a windfall, I can do only one great gardens tour in my lifetime, always thought it would be the UK, but now I’m wondering.. Would you suggest UK, USA or NZ as best value? Have shown the photo of Coral Charm to my peonies (which I see now I was unreasonably satisfied with) and told them what’s expected next year…

    • Thanks Charlene. I had an absolute ball with those presentations..
      And it has become my habit, every time I run into the partner of someone who’s attended such a presentation, to start the conversation with an apology. A client once asked if I have a double qualification; in Garden Design and Marriage Counselling. It’d sure help

  4. Oh Michael , that Coral charm is obscene, absurd, unreal!!!!!!

    and the gardens look so sumptuous! I think we live in the wrong climate.

    • I had the same feeling. Imagine wading – knee-deep – through huge swathes of Vancouveria, and wandering among chest-high domes of solid Rhododendron yakushimanum. And they think that’s just normal!

      • knee deep Vancouveria, impossible ! and chest high Rh yakushimanum, that is a metre taller than any here. So are the hostas rather like a gunnera here in that you can walk beneath their shady leaves!

  5. Thanks Michael. Sweat dreams are made of this… and agree the New Zealanders are both incredibly hospitable and really great gardeners, but keep it secret – we don’t want to admit how much we admire them!

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