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Inspiration from the Ellerslie Flower ShowBOOK REVIEWS

Inspiration from the Ellerslie Flower Show

Neil Ross and Gil Hanly
New Holland NZ

ELLERSLIE Flower Show is, of course, not just any old flower show - it is a tribute to New Zealand's gardeners, showcasing the richness and diversity that makes gardening this country's number one pastime.

Well-known gardening writer Neil Ross and Gil Hanly, the doyenne of New Zealand's garden photographers, have put together a beautiful and timely book encapsulating the spirit of the annual show over its 10-year history.

As Maggie Barry reminds us in her introduction, about 70,000 visitors annually make the pilgrimage to Auckland's Regional Botanic Gardens in Manurewa "for the pleasure and privilege of seeing the best Kiwi gardening has to offer".

In his introduction, Neil Ross backgrounds the beginnings of the show and then traces its evolution, reminding the reader that in a fragmented industry Ellerslie has formed "a valuable nucleus".

Rather than a show-by-show history, Ross has chosen a variety of themes - Harking Back, Essentially Kiwi, Dreamscapes and Playing it Straight among them - to capture the show's essence and fire the reader's imagination.

His easy style breathes life into past shows and exhibits. Gil Hanly's compelling photography reacquaints show-goers with many of their favourite exhibits - the various wildflower exhibits, last year's 'Kubla Khan', the technicoloured boots and shoes crammed with succulents, to name just three. A useful appendix lists the details of the designers whose work appears in the book.

As the title suggests, the book is not just a souvenir. It's a mirror in which Kiwi gardeners can see their gardens (or the gardens they dream of having) reflected.

Reproduced with permission from the former Weekend Gardener magazine. The views expressed here are not necessarily those of the RNZIH

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Last updated: March 1, 2021