Green Fingers Go Gold
Words: Rhiannon McConnell | The Wellingtonian, www.stuff.co.nz, 29 March 2012
A Kelburn woman's green fingers and design skills won her a gold award at the Ellerslie Flower Show in Christchurch this month.
Garden designer Rachael Matthews won the emerging designer prize with her sustainable garden, Gone to Seed.
Mrs Matthews said the win was one of the best things that could have happened to her. "I still can't sleep at night, I'm still so excited," she said.
The mother-of-two has been a garden designer for eight years. Last year she decided to augment her skills by studying building and landscaping at the Wellington Institute of Technology.
Entering the show late meant she had a lot of work to catch up. "It's quite hard work studying, managing a family and managing a business," she said.
The competition had been tough, too. She not only competed against entrants from her 2011-2012 group, but also those from the previous year whose entries never made it to the national stage because of the Christchurch earthquake.
Mrs Matthew spent three weeks building her garden in Hagley Park. The vegetables were grown at home before the show. "I must have grown about 200 vegetables, then probably ended up taking maybe 50 down, then ended up using 25." Donated fruit trees were also part of her garden.
The most popular parts of her garden were the "under boardwalk" composting system and the unusual-looking black cabbage. Her flax flower, garlic flower and toi toi beanpoles were also popular. People enjoyed her garden so much they nibbled at it, she said.
Mrs Matthews plans to catch up on her long queue of customers and take care of her own garden now she is home. "My garden has been a bit neglected," she said. "I haven't even had a chance to mow my lawns."