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Tairawhiti's glorious gardens

The meandering and colourful Gisborne Garden & Arts Festival.

Gardens might look the best they ever have after gardeners around the region dutifully stayed at home during Covid-19 lockdowns and tended to their flowers for the past two years.

Now there is a chance to see all the hard work those gardeners have put in at the meandering and colourful Gisborne Garden & Arts Festival.

It has been eight years since the popular event was staged, but festival directors Cara Haines and Jo Ware felt the timing was right to reinstate the two-day event.

The Gisborne Garden & Arts Festival was due to be held this Saturday and Sunday but due to severe weather conditions the event has been postponed.

The festival has 25 stops throughout Tairāwhiti, including at historic homesteads and vineyards.

“We are blessed with so much talent in this region, and it is a privilege to host the artists and showcase their works,” Cara said.

“From small gardens to large, formal through to coastal, there will be something for everyone to draw inspiration from, right here in our backyard.”

Most of the gardens have local artists exhibiting, and some art studios have opened for the event, featuring artists like Verity Claire Pattison and Nik Williams.

The organisers said the response has been overwhelming as people are keen to get to an event and enjoy the creativity and inspiration on display.

Muirs Bookshop owner Kim Pittar is one of those exhibiting her garden this year.

“They were looking for gardens and gardeners, so I put my hand up and asked the organisers to come and have a look, and that was that.”

Kim and her husband Guy have a property in Back Ormond Road where they grow mandarins and Christmas trees.

Kim said she only started on her main garden two years ago when they cleared some space.

She said the festival is a great way to take a peek behind the curtain at the beautiful spaces hidden around Tairāwhiti.

Local owner of Gisborne Mitre 10 and festival sponsor Geoff Taylor said he was happy to get behind the event.

“There's passionate gardeners in Gisborne and it is something worthwhile supporting.”

Geoff said he was better at killing plants than growing them, but his wife was a great gardener.

He said Gisborne gardening has been going through a boom time.

“It's phenomenal, I think it's related to the lockdown, but the amount of plants being sold is amazing.”

Even though the weather is not looking flash, Geoff said that should not hold back the green thumbs.

“A bit of wet weather won't worry any keen gardeners, and the extra moisture will make the gardens look great.”

The chosen charity that will benefit from a portion of the proceeds from this year's festival is SuperGrans Tairāwhiti.

Operating under Level 2 does impose some restrictions, but nothing that people are not used to in the current environment.

Each stop will have a QR code to scan in and limited numbers for each garden.

A first for the festival, one of the stops will be to tour through a Christmas themed room at a historic homestead.

The festival will also hold a Garden Fete at Patutahi on Sunday, with stalls selling locally-made wares, plants, jewellery, wooden products, and garden tools.

With the festival postponed, organisers will advise ticket holders as soon as a new date has been found.

BRILLIANT BACKYARDS: Garden exhibitor and Muirs Bookshop owner Kim Pittar is one of the gardeners who put up their hand to invite the community into their green space. Picture by Rebecca Grunwell