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Mangawhai opens the gate to gardeners

Though early ticket sales were languishing enough to put some stress on the organisers, garden ramblers from far and near had no intention of forsaking Mangawhai’s annual garden tour and turned out literally in droves to do what gardeners do – look, point, discuss, wonder and ramble over, around and among the twenty properties on offer.

The Focus had earlier warned visitors they would probably need both days of the weekend to cover the offering which, with some spread fairly widely geographically, could not be viewed to great extent without the benefit of time.

By day two many ramblers showed the effects of sun and wind, tousled and red-faced but all in a good cause – that of enhancing the coffers of local plunket and kindergartens and, of course, replenishing their gardening enthusiasm with new and fresh ideas.

Gardeners had worked long and hard to have their pride and joy looking its best for the weekend. Much preparation was stymied by recent heavy rain and, of course, mother nature decides when it’s time to bring forth blooms. But given the time of year, a couple of fine days can generally transform struggling flowers into fresh growth and a radiance of beauty.

Some owners were in-absentia leaving wanderers simply to ramble while others met and mingled with visitors in busy conversation and explanations on the how’s and why’s their gardens were laid out as they were. I’m always intrigued how the same plants act quite differently in different situations both in growth, and flower and foliage colour. Though we generally mulch and fertilise madly, results differ widely according to site and soil composition. In one vege garden, young spuds were growing vigorously while in another the gardener was already harvesting his – different strokes for different folks. Often its about finding the best situation for a plant rather than trying to make it fit where you would like it.

From close-planted cottage gardens, to expansive manicured rows of vineyards and olive groves; from garden sheds cum potting sheds to art studios, reading rooms, a dog-friendly garden and a funky chook run; steps and stairs, a variety of garden art and, well worthy of mention, Box Milestone’s amazing swing bridge, all go to making gardens an individual project. Add to that some neat ideas for alfresco dining, fish smokers and pizza ovens and the term ‘garden’ takes on a whole new meaning.

Though numbers were lower on the Sunday this was still the most successful Ramble in terms of numbers with some reporting over 200 visitors on the Saturday.

Not really a gardener? If you took the time to visit just a few of those on show, it’s almost certain you’d be drawn into the web.

Congratulations to the organisers who must now begin planning next year’s ramble while trying to make it even more interesting with new sights to view, and especially to the gardeners for their efforts in presenting their properties to the public. Also Palmers and local businesses for their ongoing sponsorship and donations. Gardeners are gardeners regardless but those on show have

gone that extra mile in preparing theirs for display and their efforts are very much admired and appreciated.

Early estimates indicate a profit well over $13,000 – a fantastic effort.



1. Gael McConachy’s ‘Block’, the subject of years of ‘developmental’ writing in The Focus.

2. Gardeners like to wander, explore and fossick.

3. Box Milestone’s self-made swing bridge.

4. Gael McConachy, right, explains The Block to avid listeners.

5. Lizzie (right) chaperones a group around the garden expounding her first-hand knowledge and obviously enjoying the job. ‘Pay attention, please!’

6. Garden hideaway. Look closely and you’ll note the ‘sofa’ is an old iron bath, remodelled. You can see the feet.

7. The coal range of the 60’s vies for prominence against a shiny modern BBQ but probably makes the better pizza.

8. Succulents are easy care, versatile and attractive in such a vast variety .

9. Garden art knows no bounds.

10. Pom-Poms in an easy care yet colourful border.
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The Mangawhai Focus is the only 'Mangawhai' community Newspaper and is the paper of choice within the local area.

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