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Ellerslie Flower Show, Auckland New Zealand 2002

Sonja Cameron of Cameron's Nursery, Arcadia NSW covered the event for 'Greenworld' and filed this report.

Design by Sanda Arnet 'Coastal Reef Garden' - Won Gold

This was our fourth visit to The Ellerslie Flower Show and we are yet to be disappointed. Set in the Auckland Regional Botanical Gardens in Manukau City during November, more than 70,000 visitors walked through the turnstiles this year. The Rotary Club of Auckland established this show as a unique fundraiser and has donated all surplus money since it's beginning in 1994. The group donates to charities all over New Zealand and has so far donated some $440,000. Hundreds of volunteers give their time to make the five-day event a memorable one and the largest gardening and outdoor event in the Southern Hemisphere after Melbourne's famous International Flower and Garden Show (MIFGS).

The success of this show is due to many factors

Seven full time people work all year round on the event in conjunction with Rotary volunteers. During the month before opening a team of contractors and workers help to transform a piece of the Botanical garden into a mini-city with all modern facilities. The site is beautiful with native bushland and gardens which creates the atmosphere so essential for a major garden show. The creativity of the designers and exhibitors is new and different every year. Each design is unique and collectively the exhibits cover gardening of all tastes from coastal gardens, New Zealand and Australian native gardens, children's gardens and formal English and cottage gardens to name but a few. The show has mainly horticultural associated products set in extremely tastefully laid out marquees and outdoor areas. There are 300 exhibits and retailers displaying at the show. Food is plentiful with seating and covered areas dotted around the grounds.

Special awards - the competition is tough!

Awards are given to exhibitors in the different areas set up throughout the show. Being given an award by the judges is a highlight as the competition is tough. This year the judges awarded 19 Gold, 23 Silver and 29 Bronze medals.

Set around the outdoor exhibits is a series of five large marquees. Inside each marquee the central theme is different - a factor to truly delight the senses.

The 'Discovery Marquee' features a garden of the future. Visitors are taken on a pathway through water-powered sculptures, fibre-optic spotlight wetlands and permaculture gardens. The 'Grand Marquee' is home to a number of well-known national and international exhibitors and many beautiful waterscapes and gardens of tranquillity are housed in this area.

The 'Floral Art and Design Marquee' is a feast for the senses. Exhibitors are professional florists, floral designers, floral art clubs and societies. They use thousands of flowers to create a glorious floral extravaganza.

The 'Earth Vision Marquee' contains conservation and organic themes.

The 'Design Marquee' has a theme of colored gardens. All designs are imaginative and inspiring.

My two favourites were the Tourism New Zealand Garden Art and the Outdoor Gardens.

Outdoor Gardens

Design by Jamie Durie "Prime Garden Trails of Australia" - Won Gold

These are a collection of twelve designs using innovative ideas and themes. Auckland Botanical Garden designed an outdoor living area using edible plants in a practical garden setting.. Manukau City Council featured an interactive childrens' adventure playground where the participants were able to learn about touch, smell, listening and respect for the environment while enjoying their playtime. Another favourite created by Sandra Arnet depicted a coastal reef garden with four towers of bubbling water holding a roof shading an outdoor living area. Surrounding this was a coastal paradise featuring good use of succulents, grasses and flowers with shells and sand. New Zealanders are keen gardeners and this show brings together people from far and wide, both locally and internationally, to experience the outdoor sensation that this show has become.

For Australian visitors

Visitors from Australia will not find many new plants but rather, innovative ways in which to use them. The New Zealand love of gardening is displayed in many shapes and forms. New Zealanders' are ahead in terms of plant selection by about eighteen months to two years in some areas. Succulents were in fashion in NZ long before they made the big time here. This seems set for change once again - back to flowering gardens I believe.

Ellerslie is a show for garden and plant lovers

Design by Staff Design Team at the Auckland Botanical Gardens - "Courtyard Cuisine" - Won Silver

The ambience at Ellerslie is wonderful. Try to make it this year and prepare to be inspired for you will probably take home many ideas to use in your home and business.

The Tuesday session is from 12noon and this is for the disabled and the trade. I would encourage any industry colleagues to visit on this day. The Wednesday to Sunday is for the general public and it is packed. Accommodation is booked well in advance, so don't leave this to the last minute. There are also lovely open gardens in NZ that are inspiring and well worth a visit. Finally, do take some time out to look around the Auckland Botanical Gardens while you're there.

See you at Ellerslie next November!

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