When you begin a construction project in the midst of what is regarded as one of New Zealand’s most interesting plant collections, it’s wise to tread thoughtfully.
That’s why visitors have to squint through the foliage to see the builders hard at work on a new gatehouse at Hollard Gardens, near Kaponga on the southern flank of Mount Taranaki.
Site clearance was kept to an absolute minimum and as the new structure takes shape, it almost appears to be part of the surrounding trees and bushes. For those entering the gatehouse from the newly sealed car park, it will be like stepping into another world.
The construction is part of a refurbishment project taking in both Hollard Gardens and Tupare in New Plymouth. Both historic properties are owned by the Taranaki Regional Council.
“The new gatehouse at Hollard Gardens will give visitors a fittingly dramatic introduction to the property – they’ll know they’ve arrived somewhere special,” says the Council’s Regional Gardens Manager, Greg Rine.
“Here they will be given information and way-finding material to allow them to explore the property, appreciate the vision of the late Bernie Hollard who established the gardens, and learn why the plant collection here is highly regarded locally, nationally and internationally.”
Also under construction is an events pavilion – on the main lawn, to make it an ideal venue for a variety of functions. It will include small kitchen facilities and toilets.
“It will be a great place for all sorts of events, from weddings to service club fundraisers,” says Mr Rine. “We are also keen on the idea of using it for regular gardeners’ workshops aimed at both the general gardener and those with specialist interests.”
The refurbishment project also includes the cataloguing of the thousands of plants at the 4.5 ha gardens. Work has already begun and Mr Rine says the state-of-the-art software being used offers the potential for the public to use the information at a variety of levels, depending on their depth of interest.
“Some people might only want to know the common name of a particular plant. Others might want full botanical details. It will all be there.”
Bernie Hollard established the garden on bare land in 1927 and before his death in 1996 was awarded a Queen’s Service Order for his work in building up such a significant plant collection.
The refurbishment project will continue into the autumn and the new-look gardens will be formally unveiled in the spring.
Both Hollard Gardens and Tupare remain free to visit as the refurbishment work is carried out. They are open daily from 9am to 5pm.