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Glorious gardens on display at Gisborne Garden & Arts Festival

Some of Gisborne's most glorious gardens were on show at the weekend as the weather turned it on for the Gisborne Garden & Arts Festival.

Around 1000 garden and art lovers visited 25 locations, including historic homesteads and vineyards, with some of the proceeds from the event going to good causes.

“It was an awesome weekend,” said Cara Haines, one of the festival directors.

“The sun was shining, everyone was enjoying themselves and the feedback has been hugely positive. I think people were grateful to have an event to attend in the current environment.”

It has been eight years since this popular event was staged and the festival directors, Cara and Jo Ware, felt it was time to bring it back.

However, they faced opposition from both Covid-19 and the sky above.

In the middle of planning the event in August, New Zealand went into an Alert Level 4 lockdown. Then days before the festival was about to go ahead Gisborne was hit with historic levels of rain causing landslides and flooding.

“We thought we were on and then the weather bomb hit, so it was nice to finally have it and for everyone to enjoy it,” Cara said.

The arts element of the festival was represented by a range of artists who exhibited their work at the properties. Some also opened up their personal studios for the event.

“It's great for the artists to be able to exhibit and be open to the public,” said Cara.

A portion of the proceeds from this year's festival will go to Supergrans Tairawhiti once the accounts are balanced.

Hospice Tairawhiti is another beneficiary of the festival, with visitors to a grand old homestead on Lavenham Road being invited to make a coin donation.

The building was draped in Christmas decorations and decorated with flowers from two florists. .

Cara and Jo were very grateful to the garden owners, artists, sponsors and everyone who attended.

“We're grateful for everyone who helped make this event.

“If you haven't got the gardens you haven't got the event,” said Cara.

She is keen to carry on the festival as a biennial event but she said it depended on the homeowners around Gisborne.

“We'll just have to wait and see. It all comes down to whether we can get the gardens. It's a real challenge finding the right people who are willing to open their gardens, so that's why we're grateful to the ones who did open on the weekend.”

Now it is down to Gisborne's green-fingered community, who have at least two years to spruce up their outdoor spaces if the festival is to go ahead in 2023.

ON SHOW: Lavenham Road owner Sara Dods and her dog Tully outside their house for the Gisborne Garden & Arts Festival. Pictures by Paul Rickard
A SEASONAL STOP: Hospice Volunteer Robin Kapa inside Lavenham Road where visitors donated money towards the palliative care charity.
TURNING IT ON: This majestic old homestead in Lavenham Road was looking picture perfect on Saturday as visitors to the Gisborne Gardens and Arts Festival stopped by. The house was one of 25 locations around the district involved in the festival. Inside, Hospice Tairawhiti volunteer Robin Kapa admires decorations by two florists were to a Christmas theme Guests were invited to make a coin donation towards Hospice Tairawhiti. Picture by Paul Rickard