Anne Gibson

Property editor of the NZ Herald

Auckland garden ranks among finest in the world

Ayrlies Garden in Whitford Auckland.
Photo / Jane Ussher.
Ayrlies Garden in Whitford Auckland. Photo / Jane Ussher.

Ayrlies, one of New Zealand's most famous gardens, has featured in America's Wall Street Journal in a feature article headlined "Beverley McConnell's garden paradise".

The outstanding, influential and vast garden at Whitford south of Auckland is described as Mrs McConnell's "own patch of Eden", a place she has tended for 50 years which is also open to the public.

Beverley McConnell owner of the 4.5 hectare Ayrlies Garden in Whitford Auckland.
Photo / Jane Ussher
Beverley McConnell owner of the 4.5 hectare Ayrlies Garden in Whitford Auckland. Photo / Jane Ussher

The journal calls it a place that ranks among the finest in the world: "12 acres of densely planted, rolling landscape with trees, shrubs, perennials and vines woven into a tapestry that borders a thriving wetland."

The article cites American renowned plantsman Daniel Hinkley calling Mrs McConnell "without a doubt the first lady of horticulture in New Zealand".

"The lush garden along the idyllic coast of New Zealand, Ayrlies, reflects a half-century of taming the landscape with an impeccable eye - and more than a touch of savage beauty," reported Lindsey Taylor.

Mrs McConnell is the mother of John McConnell, executive director of the Viaduct Harbour-headquartered McConnell Group, Nancy McConnell of Hawkins Group in Parnell and David McConnell, managing director of McConnell Group and chairman of Auckland Tourism Events and Economic Development. David McConnell is also a director of the Committee for Auckland and has been on the boards of Mighty River Power, TelstraClear Pacific Trust and the University of Auckland Business School.

The McConnell family owns New Zealand's second biggest builder, Hawkins Construction, which ranks behind Fletcher Construction in terms of the value of building work it completes annually.

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