Gardens share new mission

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Trott's gardens trust representatives Tony Todd and Jess Wilson in the famous knot garden, which will be part of the neighbours day on March 27.

Trott’s Gardens is inviting Mid Canterbury people to visit on neighbours day later this month so it can share its plans to become a community arts, gardening and educational hub.

The award-winning gardens on Racecourse Road were created by Alan and Catherine Trott over 40 years and bought in 2017 by a group of philanthropists who wanted to preserve them for the community.

A trust was created to manage and promote the gardens and it is now working towards a vision that will open the gardens up to the community and bring in more visitors and users to ensure a long-term future.

Trust spokesperson Tony Todd said $1.5 million needed to be raised to buy the gardens, relocate buildings to be used for an environmental education centre and community kitchen and add natives and a vegetable-growing area at the venue.

The trust is now in the process of obtaining funding to complete a feasibility study in order to be in a position to apply for major grants to raise most of the money.

Its new plan for the future is the reason behind Trott’s neighbours day event on Saturday, March 27.

Project co-ordinator Jess Wilson said neighbours day was being celebrated around the country and this year had a plant swap theme. It was the ideal connection for Trotts, who will open the gates of the gardens to visitors from 10am until 2pm.

There will be promotional stalls by Back to Basics, Timebank and eco educators, and some workshops are also being planned.

The Mid Canterbury Newcomers Network will bring cultural performers and the Big Little Theatre Company will also perform around the gardens. Methven’s School of Rock band will provide music.

The Mid Canterbury Community House food pantry will also relocate to the gardens for the day.

community aware of the gardens and how there will be a big shift in what we do. People still see it as just a wedding venue, but it much more than that,

bringing the community with us on this journey.

Visitors to the gardens will be asked to make a gold coin donation.

Jess said the prestigious gardens were maintained by a paid gardener and team of volunteers. They were always looking for more helpers, who gather on a Monday morning to cheerfully do their work.

The gardens are open to the public seven days, unless closed for a private function. They are an established international horticultural attraction.

A natural plantsman, Alan Trott formed the bones of the garden in 1984. He and Catherine, along with their three young sons, Paul, Hamish and Matthew, planted the area between the house and the road which is known as the Woodland area.

This area is now home to 650 rhododendrons which make a stunning display from early September through to the autumn.

Alan drew up a full plan for the whole site in 1985 and spent the ensuing years developing it. Its famous knot gardens were planned in 1990.

The New Zealand Gardens Trust awarded Trott’s Garden six stars (its highest category) and designated it as a NZ Garden of International Significance, as it is considered to be outstanding for its horticultural value in plant material, cultivation, design, construction, and maintenance.

-By Linda Clarke