Through the Looking Glass

Insider's Guide to the Festival
with Liz French
www.nzgardenandartfest.co.nz

This year's Garden and Art Festival may be the last for one gardener, but we hope it's not the last for her garden.

Gael Blaymires, of The Looking Glass Garden in the Papamoa Hills, encapsulates the spirit and bloody hard work that has created the sort of gardens recognised as Gardens of Significance by the NZ Gardens Trust. It is not an accolade given lightly.

In my four years covering the Garden Trail I have seen hundreds of gardens and met hundreds of gardeners, each bringing their own brand of positive thinking.

Gael should be named a Gardener of Significance for over 30 tireless years growing a 20-acre tree garden (with huge help from husband Cedric) on a steep hillside overlooking Te Puke with glorious coastal views-if you are fit enough to climb the ‘Stairway to Heaven'.

There's an amazing array of trees looking their beautiful best as they come into spring, and all sorts of interesting flowering under-plantings. But what makes this garden different is an Alice in Wonderland theme which expresses Gael's quirky sense of humour.

There's witty and whimsical signs to make you smile, lateral looking sculptures (like Stone Hinge by Peter Cramond), nursery rhymes and fairy tales referenced among the foliage.

Gael and Cedric may be energetic seniors but there comes a time to slow down. The Looking Glass Garden is on the market with Bayleys and we can only hope the next owner is as happy to share it with the public as the Blaymires have been.

Don't wait to find out. View this garden on the Garden Trail during the Garden & Art Festival next month when the (totally worth it) $5 adults $2.50 children entrance fee is waived.

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Omokoroa Beach Wharf. Photo: Mike Berry. Send us your photos from around the Bay of Plenty. email: photos@thesun.co.nz