Sunday, May 26, 2024

A living work of art

The recent annual Ayrlies Plant Fair attracted both garden enthusiasts and 100s of first-time visitors to one of New Zealand’s oldest and much-loved gardens.

The two-day fair had more than 1100 enthusiastic gardeners and groups of friends and family turning up on a wet Friday as they soaked in the atmosphere of the large, old country coastal garden and wetlands.

Ayrlies, which includes 16 acres of garden and 36 acres of wetlands, is recognised as one of the world’s most significant gardens, and often termed ‘a living work of art’, 59 years in the making.

Creator Bev McConnell, now 92-years-old, is the archetypal sustainable gardener and kept busy on both days meeting old friends and making new.

Jacques McConnell, Bev’s daughter, who organises the annual fund-raising event says, “We are thrilled that those who came left with both newly discovered plant treasures.

“Our Mum’s greatest joy is being able to share Ayrlies with others, whether they are seasoned gardeners, newbies, or visiting for the first time to enjoy a great outdoor sanctuary in Auckland.”

“The highlight of the event was the number of people who walked away with brilliantly coloured echinacea (Coneflowers), deep- pink asters, bromeliads with striking foliage, gems at Ayrlies Nursery propagated from the garden, maples and magnolias, all saying, ‘It’s magnificent, it’s beautiful’! Some shared ‘My soul felt nourished from the tranquility and beauty in every corner of the garden’. Others enjoyed a fantastic day out in an Auckland sanctuary.

Ayrlies Garden is open to the public Monday-Friday and by arrangement on Saturdays. For more information visit

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