Kavin and Mark take to the tropics
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.
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.