Three life-size elephants crafted from willow have launched the Taranaki Garden Spectacular.
A family of three life-size topiary elephants created by UK-artist Steve Manning has appeared on New Plymouth’s Puke Ariki landing to launch the 2013 Powerco Taranaki Garden Spectacular.
As this year’s Landscape Design Project, the elephants are crafted from willow expertly woven over custom-made steel frames by a four-person team in the United Kingdom over several months.
With the male elephant standing at 8 feet 6 inches high, the female at 7 feet, and their “baby” at 3 feet, the trio will first appear on The Puke Ariki landing but will then appear in secret locations around the Taranaki region during the 10-day festival running from November 1 to 10.
While this is the first time Manning’s topiary creations have been seen down under, he has created topiary works for London’s Hyde Park, and the Smithsonian Zoological Institute in the United States.
Created with support funding from The TSB Community Trust, the Wandering Willow Elephants will offer great photo opportunities for garden visitors and Taranaki locals, says Festival Manager Lisa Ekdahl.
“Each year we try to create something new and intriguing with our Landscape Design Project – and what’s fabulous about this year’s installation is that we can move it anywhere in Taranaki,” says Lisa.
“The family are truly majestic, and because they have a long life, they will live on after the Festival as a garden art installation.”
This year’s Powerco Taranaki Garden Spectacular features 46 premium Taranaki gardens - a quarter of which have been independently assessed as Gardens of Significance by the New Zealand Gardens Trust.
There are 12 gardens of significance including one garden of “International Significance”, six gardens of “National Significance” and five “Gardens of Significance”.
Four of the gardens in the Festival are public gardens and are free to enter. The remainder are private gardens with garden entry fees starting at $4.
Spring blossoms aren’t the only colourful things to be found in the gardens for this year’s Powerco Taranaki Garden Spectacular, visitors can also find celebrity chefs, comedians, spring fashion, and even tai chi classes.
Celebrity chef Brett McGregor will be sharing his passion for food that helped him win the first New Zealand Masterchef competition in 2010.
For the serious gardeners, there’ll also be guest speakers on numerous topics from alternative gardening systems, to floral design – and even how to grow the perfect rose or lawn. For the not so serious, TV gardening comedian Te Radar will speak on the humorous side of giving up city comforts for the country life, and the international movement called Frocks on Bikes will have a theme of “roses and pearls” as it pedals its way from Pukekura Park to La Rosaleda for bubbles and canapés.
Two local fashion houses, et Vous and Kudos, have joined forces for a spectacular spring fashion show in the park-like setting of Ratanui garden. For the more spiritually conscious, a local tai chi expert will be holding classes in the Chinese Kunming Garden in New Plymouth as well as Openlands garden in Manaia.
Art in the garden is also on the festival agenda as Govett Brewster Art Gallery’s soon to be artist-in-residence, Reuben Paterson, hosts “High Tea” at Boxwood Garden and talks about his artistic inspiration.
With food, fashion, art, inspiration and fun on the event menu – as well as guided walks through some of the 46 premier gardens in the festival – this year’s Garden Spectacular will appeal to all the senses says Lisa.
“With 27 events, we’re aiming to appeal to a broader cross-section of the community,” says Lisa. “Gardens are a place where we like to play, enjoy food and good company – as well as superb garden environments.”
For more details on this year’s festival visit www.gardenfestnz.co.nz