Kiwi garden gains royal approval at Chelsea
26 May 2011
A New Zealand garden transported to the other side of the earth for the world famous Chelsea Flower show has not only won a silver medal, but also the royal stamp of approval from the Queen.
Designed by Aucklander Xanthe White and produced by Waikato horticultural export company Tamata Holdings, the "garden of great maples" or Te maara nui o maples, was chosen from more than 600 exhibits for a royal walkabout.
The visit by the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh caused as much excitement for the Kiwis as the silver medal - another to add to the New Zealand tally at Chelsea and the second such award for Xanthe White.
Royal garden visit
Xanthe White and Tamata Holdings general manager David Parkes, who were on hand to welcome the Royals, said they were delighted when the Queen commented on the colours and called the exhibit ''lovely''.
"It was such an honour to present our little garden to the Queen. She paused after meeting us to admire the Japanese maple trees in the garden, and her minders tried to hurry her along.
''It made my day,'' said White.
Chelsea Flower Show was the ''Olympics of the gardening world'', and White said she felt proud to have been awarded a silver medal and to have ''put New Zealand horticulture on the world stage''.
Rare New Zealand plants
Bob Sweet, Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) head of shows development, described the Tamata maple garden as ''exquisite''.
''The planting is very atmospheric, and even though it is small, it is of a very high quality,'' Mr Sweet said.
Complementing the maples, the garden featured rare New Zealand plants new to the United Kingdom, and focused on diversity and sustainability.
No hard landscaping was incorporated in the design which instead featured permeable surfaces such as green walls to encourage insect life.
White said the combination of wild plant species and "crowd pleasers" was part of her mission to get people interested in plants.
The Chelsea Garden Show is a sell out every year, with visitor numbers capped at 157,000. The Kiwi exhibitors began building their garden two weeks before the event, which runs from 24 - 28 May.
100% Pure garden
White also won a silver award for designing the 100% Pure New Zealand garden at the 2006 Chelsea Show.
She is one of New Zealand’s best known garden designers, and has won gold, silver and people’s choice awards at New Zealand’s Ellerslie Flower Show.
White’s most recent project was a garden tribute and fundraiser for those affected by the Christchurch earthquake. She was in the process of building a garden for the 2011 Ellerslie Flower Show, when the quake struck.
She said her experience with the earthquake made her appreciate the work of the Red Cross and she would be auctioning off all the plants - including more than 1000 New Zealand natives - and donating the money to the Red Cross at the end of the Chelsea Flower Show.
Tamata maple trees
White was sponsored for the Chelsea Show by Tamata, a new horticultural company based in the Hamilton Waikato region of New Zealand’s North Island. Tamata specialises in cultivating and exporting Japanese maple trees.
The maples, which White describes as "tough but beautiful like All Blacks in tutus", are one of the most sought-after trees in the gardening world, and can sell for up to £2500.
It is the first time Tamata has been involved in the Chelsea show, and the first time a New Zealand company has exported mature age ornamental trees in large quantities.
White hopes the exposure at Chelsea will aid conservation of rare and endangered New Zealand plants.
When she returns to New Zealand, White will work on producing a garden design book as well as continue her biggest and longest running commission, Dalton’s Plantation in the Waikato town of Matamata - also known as Hobbiton.
The project is a constantly developing series of garden rooms that showcase new plants, products and different garden styles. White says the concept will become one of New Zealand’s most unique event venues and is one of the most exciting ventures she’s been involved with.
Daltons Plantation opened in 2009 and incorporates 10 acres of gardens and a cafe / function centre in what is described as a "living, evolving representation of the best New Zealand’s gardening industry has to offer".
Background: Xanthe White
Xanthe White is a multi-award winning garden designer. The 35-year-old is ranked amongst New Zealand’s most high profile garden designers.
Based in Auckland, White specialises in sustainable design projects with a range of work ranging from small private commissions to major urban projects.
Her award winning 100% Pure New Zealand garden at the 2006 Chelsea Flower Show represented contemporary New Zealand and the relationship between design and the natural environment.
In 2009 she wrote her first book, Organic Vegetable Gardening and is currently producing a garden design book. White is also a frequent guest and resident expert on television and radio, and writes regular gardening columns.
Background: Gardens in New Zealand
Throughout New Zealand there are many internationally and nationally significant gardens with vast collections of local flora - often in natural surroundings - and exotic species.
Most New Zealand towns have large public gardens, and many privately-owned estates are open for visits. There is also a year-round calendar of world-class international, national and regional garden festival events.
New Zealand garden festivals
New Zealand gardens of significance
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