Garden Marlborough brings thousands of people to Marlborough every year, but not this year.
Another showpiece event has been scrubbed from Marlborough’s social calendar.
Garden Marlborough, perhaps the biggest and best garden event in New Zealand, has been cancelled.
It follows the news that the Mistletoe Market, in Blenheim, won’t go ahead this year, and the Marlborough A&P Show won’t be open to the public.
This is the first time in the 28-year history of Garden Marlborough that it has been forced to cancel.
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The four-day festival in November normally sells more than 4000 tickets, with a packed schedule of garden tours, educational workshops and social events.
Rapaura Springs Garden Marlborough President Tim Crawford said the decision to cancel was not one they made lightly.
“The committee and staff have worked through every different scenario in the hope we could avoid this decision, but under current Covid level 2 restrictions we simply cannot go ahead.”
Barewood garden owner Carolyn Ferraby had shown her garden at every Garden Marlborough.
Her garden in the Awatere Valley was the “love of my life”.
“It is a community event and everyone puts such an effort into it and to have to cancel is just the last thing anyone wanted to do.
“Last year a lot of people pulled the plug, but we didn’t and managed to hold a fantastic event.
“This year was going to be amazing, we were completely sold out,” she said.
Ferraby said she had been preparing her garden since January.
“I’ve been getting it ready to open to the public, you have to mulch everything, weed, change plants … It’s quite a lot of work.”
The house was surrounded by white wisteria, which looked “very beautiful” at this time of year.
“A garden is not static, it’s changing. I have colours all year round,” she said.
Despite the cancellation, Ferraby said she would still showcase her garden, “in a private capacity”.
Crawford estimated about 3000 hours of volunteer work went into the event.
“Some of those volunteers are school groups, and it’s a fundraising event for a lot of community groups as well,” he said.
Tickets would be refunded less $10 administration fees and stallholders at The Stihl Shop Garden Fete would have a 100 per cent refund.
Crawford said it was a loss of millions of dollars for the community.
“I know that shops in town do very well during the event … This year 17 per cent of the tickets sales were to Aucklanders,” Crawford said.
Marlborough Mayor John Leggett said it was knock for the region.
“It’s an iconic event and Marlburians look forward to it, and it is the start of a really good summer for us normally.
“It’s a big loss for the Marlborough community.
“Those events are part of our calendar every year, and it stimulates a lot of activity in town, and it’s a very good feeling for everybody to have these events and to have visitors in the region.”
The cancellation reminded everyone in Marlborough “we are living in very tough times”, Leggett said.
Garden Marlborough would go ahead in November 2022.