Kavin and Mark take to the trop­ics

Central Leader - - News - By Jo­ce­lyn Rein

They may not have any su­per pow­ers but Auck­land gardeners are stick­ing their necks out for a heroic cause.

The an­nual Heroic Gar­den Fes­ti­val this week­end will see 23 of the city’s finest back­yard won­der­lands open to the pub­lic, with pro­ceeds go­ing to Hospice New Zealand.

It is fes­ti­val com­mit­tee mem­ber Kavin King’s ninth year en­ter­ing his sub­trop­i­calthemed gar­den in the fes­ti­val and he says he and part­ner Mark Yan­dall will be ex­pect­ing more than 1000 peo­ple to come through dur­ing the week­end.

Un­like most gar­den tours, the gar­dens in the fes­ti­val will be manned for the en­tire two days by their own­ers, who are avail­able to give ad­vice and in­for­ma­tion.

Kavin says since en­ter­ing their gar­den for the first time, he’s never looked back.

“The worst thing about it is the sore face mus­cles you have at the end of the week­end from smil­ing. “We re­ally en­joy it.” There’s a sur­prise in store for reg­u­lar vis­i­tors to Kavin and Mark’s gar­den this year – over the last three months the small space be­hind their Herne Bay town­house has been com­pletely re­designed.

A huge mag­no­lia tree has been taken out and re­placed with gi­ant palms, six tonnes of boul­ders were put in place with cranes and the deck­ing re­built.

“The whole look and feel has been trans­formed,” says Kavin.

“It’s changed from a shade gar­den to an airy, sunny gar­den.”

The over­haul hasn’t been without its share of back-break­ing work – the pair say they spend ev­ery week­end out­side per­fect­ing the look.

“When every­one else was get­ting over their hang­overs on New Year’s day, we were out buy­ing soil.”

The pair say they both gleaned their love of gar­den­ing from their par­ents, and Mark says he has al­ways had a soft spot for the sub­trop­i­cal plants of his na­tive Samoa.

“The idea of taros and big palms has al­ways brought joy to me,” he says.

In the past the fes­ti­val has raised money for the Auck­land City Mis­sion’s Herne Bay House, a respite cen­tre for peo­ple liv­ing with HIV and AIDS and over nine years, more than $415,000 has been do­nated.

Herne Bay House has since closed and Kavin says the idea be­hind do­nat­ing to hospice is to spread the ben­e­fit to the wider com­mu­nity.

He says the hospice’s at­ti­tude to suf­fer­ing and dig­nity makes it a wor­thy choice.

“They do a fan­tas­tic job, they re­ally do.”

“The gay com­mu­nity is no longer off to one side and we thought our fundraiser should re­flect that as well,” says Mark.

Tick­ets to the Heroic Gar­den Fes­ti­val are $30, avail­able from gar­den cen­tres.

Visit www.hero­ic­gar dens.org.nz for more in­for­ma­tion.

Pho­tos: JA­SON OX­EN­HAM

Town­house par­adise: Mark Yan­dall and Kavin King in their heroic gar­den in Herne Bay.

Colour­ful trop­ics: Bromeli­ads and palm trees in the heroic gar­den of Mark and Kavin.

Is­land style: A Ba­li­nese god­dess in Kavin and Mark’s gar­den.

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