Garden lovers flock to festival

HANNAH FLEMING
Last updated 05:00 24/11/2012

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New events, sunny weather and an increase in visitor numbers had Taranaki's garden festival blooming brighter than ever this year.

More than 54,000 people flocked to the 51 gardens on show during the Powerco Taranaki Garden Spectacular, with 75 per cent of those visitors from out of town.

Last year's festival attracted about 52,000 garden enthusiasts.

Festival manager Lisa Ekdahl said it had been the most successful festival on record by a long shot.

"It had that celebratory feel about it being the 25th anniversary, and the introduction of new events helped us spruce it up a bit.

"The Frocks on Bikes, Spring Fashion, Secret Dining or guest speaker events were either sold out or very well patronised."

The Peranakan Lights situated on Pukekura Park's Brooklands Lawn were also a huge attraction, she said.

"There was a massive community response to the lights. We had to open up extra parking on the gables lawn so it was definitely popular.

"Overall the general vibe and comments we received made it obvious it was successful and that's a really good feeling."

Ms Ekdahl said those who opened their gardens were blown away by the enthusiasm shown by visitors.

"They were all very inspired and enthusiastic about the gardens and gardening. That makes it a real pleasure for the gardeners."

Taranaki Motel Association spokeswoman Deborah Tawa said the association had noticed a continual increase in out-of-town visitors over the last three years.

"It was a great festival this year for visitor numbers - kind weather always makes a difference."

Ms Ekdahl said anyone wishing to enter their garden next year could contact Taranaki Arts Festival Trust for more information.

"We are assessing some great new gardens for the 2013 event so we will continue to offer . . . inspiring gardens to experience."

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- Taranaki Daily News

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