Flax flower bean frames are popular with the public

Rachael Mathews wins Gold and Emerging designer of the year

Wellington designer Rachael Matthews has  received two gongs  at this year’s Ellerslie International Flower show in Christchurch.

Gone To Seed










Rachael is an established landscape designer and owner of  Hedge Garden Design and Nursery in Wellington.  She was awarded  Gold for her garden Gone to Seed and also received the supreme award for Emerging Designer of the Year.

Rachael said the inspiration for the garden came from her mother’s own veggie patch which tended to run wild at this time of the year. She began growing the vegetables for the garden in November, saying it was “nerve-wrecking with the weather, and then working out how to transport my larrikin lettuces from Wellington to Christchurch without the beets behaving badly, a broccoli rebellion or a full-scale mustard mutiny”.

Veggies aside, the garden is packed with innovative ideas for home gardeners, like space saving layouts for growing fruit on walls, an underground composting system that doubles as a boardwalk between the beds and DIY bean frames made form sculptural flax flowers, alliums, bull rushes and toetoes. Lead Judge of the Emerging Design Category Renee Davies from Auckland said Rachael’s garden stood out for its innovative design.

Innovative Trench Composting System

“Within a small space, she had put a compost bin below the boardwalk and had climbing frames on the courtyard made from recycled materials; everything was done in such a way that was simplistic and had great clarity.” She praised Rachael’s use of materials and how everything growing in the garden had gone to seed, reflecting the mature stage of the clients whose dream was to live “the good life”. “The construction was outstanding, the detail impeccable and there was a real beauty in the way the theme manifests in the plant quality.” “The quirky touch was in the way she had used toe toe, flax, and alliums to stake her plants.”

Flax flower bean frames are popular with the public

Renee says when young designers are given a brief to design a garden; the difficulty is in ensuring they don’t overdo it. “What was clear with Rachael’s design is that she didn’t put in what wasn’t needed and showed real clarity with what she did put in; that is what made it stand out.”

The judges said overall they couldn’t fault the garden and it would also have won gold in the exhibition category. They thought it was a superb design and a clear winner. Very innovative, fulfilling the brief with many layers of detail. The garden demonstrates very artistic arrangements and well thought through design. The other judges on the panel were Linda Hallinan and Simon Farrell.

Layers of Bolting Veggies

General feedback is that the public love the plants; the underground composting system; and the bean frames which are made from flax flowers, garlic flowers, bull rushes & toe toes. Congratulate Rachael on the Hedge Garden Design and Nursery Facebook page  Check our the Hedge Garden Design and Nursery portfolio.

Emerging Designs/Student Designer of the Year 2012 Competition Results: Rachael Matthews (Weltec)  Gold & Student Designer of the Year Katrina Pinnington (Design & ArtsCollege)       Silver Distinction’ Sheldon McNamara   (Weltec)  Silver Ben Saywell, Darryl Johnston,  Silver Kate McDougall,LachlanMunro, Silver Lauren Lee and Lucy Magill (CPIT) Silver Kyle Lewis & Richard Lorgelly (CPIT)  Bronze Danilyn Green (Design & ArtsCollege)  Bronze Fleur Mar (Weltec)  Merit

Trents Nursery Ellerslie ‘Show Offs’

Trents is once again providing the Ellerslie International Flower Show with a multitude of fantastic plants for the Exhibition Gardens, and two entries in the ‘Show Offs’ category – exciting new plants for the garden – in the Go Gardening display inside the Hort Galore marquee.

Scabiosa Crimson Clouds and Leucanthemum Banana Cream (pictured) are delicious…

Artistic garden

An artistic garden of two halves

The relationship of the natural world to both art and architecture is celebrated in the debut Ellerslie International Flower Show exhibition garden by designer Kevin Gillespie.

The two halves of Manawatu landscape architect Kevin Gillespie’s debut Ellerslie International Flower Show exhibition garden which explores the relationship of the natural world to both art and architecture.

The Manawatu landscape architect from GLD Architectural Landscape Design will create a garden of two halves – a studio and a gallery – set within the context of the bright, colourful and geometric work of the artist Mondrian.

Kevin says for millennia, the natural world has been used by artists as inspiration for creativity, the landscape movement of the 18th century being inspired by the Dutch landscape paintings of the 16th and 17th centuries to reflect the natural world.

Kevin, formerly from theUnited Kingdom, has been living inNew Zealandfor the last four years and says good architecture in all guises responds creatively to the natural environment and should be used to frame and enhance the setting.

“I have always been interested in the relationship between the natural world and architecture and thought it would be interesting to explore how you could portray art within the landscape context.”

His garden, Art is Landscape – Landscape is Art has a studio at the front of the 10m x 10m space, located within a heavily vegetated garden with water flowing through the area. The planting dominates this part of the garden, juxtaposed with the simple but eye-catching architecture of the studio. Here the plants provide the artistic inspiration.

This leads through to a gallery of floating decks painted in Mondrian’s primary colours of blue, red and yellow. The same colours are found on the fences, creating art in the landscape and linking the two spaces. This part of the hard landscape is dominated by framed vegetation which becomes the artwork in the controlled environment.

“This garden is about creative interaction of architecture, art and soft landscape design.”

He says the plant palette will predominantly be native, the form and colour of the plants providing the interest in the design rather than flowers.

Kevin admits he is “not much of a flower fan” preferring the architectural shape of plants and exploring how they relate to the landscape and environment and using the plants to soften the structures.


Ellerslie designer seeks couple to marry in exhibition garden

The Ellerslie International Flower Show has begun a nation-wide search for a couple to get married in the Straight from the Heart exhibition garden at this year’s Show.


Christchurch Landscape ArchitectOlive Screenhas designed a wedding-themed garden for Ellerslie 2012 and is hoping the garden will host the first-ever wedding to be held at the Show.

Olive, who is also a marriage celebrant, has been involved in Ellerslie in the past, winning bronze in 2010 for Tohunga’s Garden, which she designed for Malcolm McBride from Letz Go Native.


This year Olive’s garden design, Straight from the Heart will be constructed by Pohutukawa Landscape Ltd. It features a big heart-shaped lawn in the central area of the 10m x 10m exhibition space, over which hovers a smaller heart-shaped deck.

In designing the garden, Olive says she researched marriage, looking at where the influences have come from over the years, the old-fashioned, historical and biblical connections about what marriage and weddings are all about. “It won’t be a traditional garden with roses and buxus hedging, but what the planting palette promises is a garden that harks back to those historical and biblical connections.”

She says she was inspired to create something that was “cheery and happy” and yet rich and meaningful, with a little bit of romance.

“I didn’t want anything to do with the earthquake; no demolition materials, recycled bricks or crumbling walls. I wanted the garden to be about new beginnings and happy endings.  This is a garden where dreams will be realised.”


If a couple can be found, Olive will officiate at the wedding during the show, being held from 7 to 11 March in Christchurch’s North HagleyPark.

Interested couples should contact Olive via email: olivescreen@yahoo.co.nz or on 027 289 1006.



chch banner

2012 Ellerslie International Flower Show to go ahead

The next Ellerslie International Flower Show will be staged in North Hagley Park from 7-11 March 2012.

Following cancellation of the 2011 Show after the 22 February earthquake, Christchurch City Council has confirmed that the city’s premier garden show will go ahead next year.

Christchurch City Council Marketing Manager Richard Stokes says the 2012 Show will be the perfect way for Christchurch to both cement and celebrate its reputation as the Garden City following the devastating earthquake.

“Ellerslie has always been a place where the latest gardening trends are forecast. This will be more relevant than ever as we rebuild Christchurch because many visitors to the Show may be starting to look for inspiration if they are redesigning their gardens. We already have some exciting plans underway for next year’s Show and we are looking forward to finalising details over the coming months.”

A total of $1.5 million was spent on this year’s cancelled Show, which was due to be held from 9-13 March. Many garden designers had been on site for more than a week building their gardens and marquees had already been erected when the earthquake occurred.

The figure was included in the quarterly performance report, which was presented to Council yesterday. It includes refunding sponsors and retailers, advertising, paying for the infrastructure that had already been set up on the site and ticket refunds. Ticket holders have subsequently donated about $59,000 to the New Zealand Red Cross Canterbury Earthquake Appeal.

Many Ellerslie staff were also on site when the earthquake hit and, together with members of the Council’s events team, helped to set up a temporary shelter in one of the larger marquees for around 1000 people that evening. The marquee continued to provide shelter for 24 hours after the earthquake until welfare centres could be set up in the city.

Exhibition Manager Kate Hillier, who was one of the Ellerslie staff on site that day, says knowing the marquee had been used to help people in need had brought comfort to many of the staff and exhibitors who were so far along with preparations for the Show.

“We were so grateful to be able to contribute in some way to Christchurch at its time of need, particularly because people have embraced the Show so wholeheartedly since it moved to the city in 2009.”

For more information please visit the website.