International Experience New Zealand Day 4: Ayrlies and Auckland Botanic Garden

20140115_110041Ayrlies is known as the quintessential country garden. It has received the highest ranking possible from New Zealand and was recently featured in the Wall Street Journal.

To say this garden is beautiful is only part of the story;

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it draws you in and teases you with vistas and then quietly envelops you in an intimate grove of sequoias.

20140115_100548As we wove our way through the garden with Head Gardener Ben Conway, he shared the story of Ayrlies. In 1964, Bev McConnell began the transformation of her home and dairy farm into a garden.

Ten years later, Bev added a gardener to her staff who was instrumental in creating this truly breathtaking garden.Bev is still very much involved in creating seemingly impossible combinations of plants that highlight the ideal growing conditions available to gardens in this region.

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Before we left Ayrlies, we had the chance to sit down with Bev McConnell’s son, John, and Jack Hobbs, Director of Auckland Botanic Gardens, to discuss the Longwood Graduate Program.
20140115_114412The group had a great conversation about the future of public horticulture professionals and one that we were able to continue with Jack as we visited Auckland Botanic Garden (ABG) next.

 

 

20140115_165023We began our visit to ABG inside the library with a short overview of the Garden. Jack explained that this relatively young (32 year old), 156 acre garden is free to the public and boasts an attendance that has more than doubled in the last 8 years to over 900,000 visitors annually.

20140115_152853Jack has an excitement to share horticulture with garden visitors that is contagious.We followed Jack into the grounds where he pointed to a number of techniques used to interact with visitors. 

 

20140115_162848Impossible to miss are eclectic sculptures in the garden, water features and native plant collections important to the Maori people. 

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Jack explained that there are more naturalized non-native plants than natives in New Zealand and the garden showcases native plants that can be used in the home garden to encourage greater use.

 

 

 

As we finished our walk we explored the children’s garden and stopped to enjoy one final sculpture before thanking Jack for being a great host and sharing his garden with us.20140115_161954

 

 

Blog by Bryan and Photos by Felicia

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