Ever wondered what’s behind that fence? The Garden & Art Festival provides your chance to find out.

WORDS MONIQUE BALVERT-O’CONNOR / PHOTOS SUPPLIED

Landscape architect Nichola Vague

Her clients have included Middle Eastern royalty and she was a key member of the design team behind Dubai’s spectacular desert paradise Bab Al Shams Resort & Spa. She’s Tauranga landscape architect Nichola Vague, and she’ll be one of the many stars of this year’s Bay of Plenty Garden & Art Festival in November.

Nichola, who also took part in the festival’s live lead-up talk show On the Couch, is designing one of the concept gardens that will be displayed at the festival hub, Tauranga Historic Village. She says she’s so excited to be involved.

The annual celebration has attracted other big guns, including Ruud Kleinpaste, also known as ‘the Bug Man’; and singer Catriona Fallon of Riverdance fame. Festival director Marc Anderson says its many other stars are the gardeners and artists who will be showcasing their work during the November 15 to 18 event.

Ferris garden

This year’s festival promises plenty to please. The trail itself will incorporate about 70 garden and art-studio stops throughout the Western Bay of Plenty, and the work of more than 50 artists will be on display. Marc says the art and sculpture line-up is spectacular
and inspirational, while the mix of gardens is varied, with formal plots, sprawling rural gardens and plenty in between. “One garden is a suburban
oasis with a huge pond that includes a wee beach. Another features a wetlands garden with a fish pond inside an oversized aviary.”

At least 15 gardens are new to the event this year. Some gardeners have been involved before but have since moved house and now have new properties to reveal, including landscape designer Michelle McDonnell, and Gael Blaymires, formerly of the much-loved Looking House Garden. Old favourites, such as Heather Loughlin’s Amberwood, are back for another year.

Blair garden

The festival’s popular Long Lunch is returning too, and special events will be held daily at Bloom in the Bay at the Historic Village. Marc says this will be a spot where people of all ages can enjoy live music, keynote speakers, food and beverages, exhibitions, workshops, displays and concept gardens. Open after the trail has closed for the day, it will also provide entertainment every night. “There’s plenty of ‘wow factor’ on offer,” says Marc.

SEE YOU THERE!

Tickets to the Bay of Plenty Garden & Art Festival are $35 for a single-day pass or $65 for a four-day pass. Entry to Bloom in the Bay is free with your festival ticket, or to attend just Bloom in the Bay, pay only $5 a day for adults – it’s free for kids. For more information, visit: GARDENANDARTFESTIVAL.CO.NZ.