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Multiple gold medal winner promises “most creative” garden for Ellerslie

29 December 2008

Ellerslie International Flower Show veteran Ben Hoyle is promising his most creative garden to date for Ellerslie 2009 which “will push all the boundaries and create a real sense of theatre”. 

It is a “very contemporary design” featuring long, wedge-shaped reflective ponds, drifts of sculptural plantings, perimeter walls of vertical plantings juxtaposed with mirrors, blue acrylic stepping stones, a lunar-scape, lighting, and central to the design is a kinetic, ball-shaped, grass-clad bio-pod outdoor room hung with bubble chairs.


Ben was only 21 when he took part in his first Ellerslie Show. That was in 1998 when he won silver. Ten years on, he has now competed at six Ellerslie Shows and has a fistful of gold medals to his credit, including taking top honours in the 2006 Avenue of Gold – competing against all previous gold medal winners at the Show.


The Wellington designer says his Ellerslie 2009 will provoke strong opinions and lots of discussion.


“Each year my designs become more and more ambitious as I push harder to explore beyond accepted design boundaries to wow people and make them think.  


“My 2009 Ellerslie garden looks very differently at how we use space; I want visitors to interact with the garden, to stop take a second look and think about how they use their own space and to think beyond just having static structures in their garden.”


He is excited about Ellerslie’s shift to Christchurch, saying it will give the Show new energy and a fresh injection of life. “I’m also excited about exhibiting in Christchurch as I have never been to the city before.”


He says exhibiting in Christchurch will be “a walk in the park” compared with when he represented New Zealand at the Singapore Garden Festival earlier this year and “almost everything went wrong”.


He lost 70 pert cent of his plant material due to the change in climatic conditions, many of the props for the garden were damaged in transit and despite using loads of Kiwi No. 8 wire ingenuity, he was unable to complete his exhibition garden in time for judging. However, Ben says it was such an amazing experience, he would “do it all again at the drop of a hat”.


During his trip to Singapore, Ben learnt about Urban Greening – where roofs and walls of buildings are planted to lower structural temperatures – and this has influenced part of his design for Ellerslie.


Ben says gardening is very much back in vogue, particularly as seen with the renewed interest in people growing their own vegetables. He is a strong advocate for integrating plantings – natives, exotics and edibles – in the same space and trying to achieve a more equal balance gardens between structure and plants.

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