Launch of 2015 Auckland Garden DesignFest


Launch of next years Garden DesignFest to be held in Auckland 14th & 15th November 2015.

Members were treated to frank and informative talks by Jan Hart and Bryan McDonald, both outstanding garden designers, with successful careers and a range of literary achievements, show gardens and awards behind them, but both first time participants in our last DesignFest.

A slide show of the impressive gardens featured in 2013 ran in the background, including a couple of shots of very happy-looking visitors enjoying them, while Jan and then Bryan shared their experiences and offered valuable hints and advice to previous and would-be participants.

Jan emphasised the importance of maintaining high standards by using professional gardeners prior to the event, not giving away all your trade secrets, showing photos before, during and after construction and making yourself available generally and to bus tour visitors in particular. She praised the volunteers, saying they were a great help to the designers and also said that designers want to be able to visit the other gardens. Most importantly, Jan affirmed that her company had gained new projects as a result of their participation in the festival.

Bryan spoke positively about how the DesignFest had lifted the profile of garden design again with the public, and how it strengthens the designer’s profile. He felt that the organisation and logistics of the event worked well, taking the pressure off the designers and confirmed that people appreciated the fact that the gardens were real, not show gardens. He felt that the exclusivity of our event was particularly valuable in that these gardens are not usually open to the public. He praised the website, stressing the international reach of the site - gardens without borders. Plus the value of having the photos on there for a long period of time and asked if we could put post-event information on the website too.

The newsletter perhaps covers this point in some degree and having the designers’ details and links to their websites is also particularly helpful. Of course, our members enjoy this benefit doubly because of their exposure on this website as well, including their gardens and profiles from earlier festivals.

Penny Cliffin addressed the group in her role as the bus tour operator, along with Anna-Maria Morris. She said they had doubled their numbers and that noted that some of the participants were designers from other parts of the country and also Australia. She called for earlier delivery and more details from designers as this aspect was especially appreciated. She explained that the choice of gardens visited by the bus is based on location, size of garden, safety and access.

Scott Burridge spoke on behalf of the Rotary Club of Newmarket about their charitable trust and how we will be able to focus on children’s charities within that. Those who have had experience with some of our chosen charities also offered suggestions.

Rose Thodey reported that magazines and NZ House & Garden in particular were very keen to gain access to our DesignFest gardens. For this reason it is even more important that we get good photographs this spring and summer to use on our own website and as scouting shots for them. In the meantime, the website is a particularly useful source of gardens from previous DesignFests and their participation will still be acknowledged in any future articles.

Many valuable ideas, tips and comments were put forward by those present in the ensuing open discussion and all of these will be taken into consideration and passed onto designers where applicable as we begin the process of planning for next year’s event. Be sure to keep an eye on the website for further updates.


GDSNZ AGDF Committee – 

Rose Thodey (Joint Chair)

Janet Walters (Event Administrator)

Deb Hardy (Sponsorship)

Sue McLean

Damian Wendelborn