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.
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.
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).
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…