A horticulturalist by trade and an ex-garden shop owner have finally opened up their garden for the Waikanae Super Lions Garden Trail starting this weekend.
Having been at their Waikanae home for 15 years, and asked by the Lions Club a number of times, John and Christine Bongiovanni's 1650sq m garden will be open for viewing during the trail from January 26-27.
Many weekend hours have been spent creating a number of different gardens within their property over the years.
"Since we've been retired over the last year or so we've actually had the time to get into it more," John said.
Their garden includes a rose garden with perennial boarders and a lawn for the grandkids, a Japanese Garden, a potager vegetable garden, serenity area and section nicknamed Jurassic Park because of its wild nature.
Winding around their house, the garden features 86 rose bushes predominantly looked after by Christine, and a special area for John's bonsai trees.
Bonsai involves training trees to be kept small, pruned and shaped into the desired shape by careful control of the plant's growing conditions.
Having gradually built up 300 bonsai trees, John has bonsai as old as 30 on display.
"There's an argument between people as to whether it's an art form or horticulture," John said.
"It actually is art but you need to have horticultural knowledge to be able to do it."
Gardening is a hobby and a passion for both John and Christine which has grown over the years.
"It's a very healthy pursuit," Christine said.
"With a big garden like this you don't have to go to the gym. It's very relaxing."
Christine said the garden has been planned, but not totally planned.
"It's evolved — sometimes you have to adapt.
"There have been lots of trips to the garden centre where you come home with something and are like 'where am I going to put that?'"
"The overall structure has fitted with a vision we have had, certainly with the perennial boarders," John said.
"We've got a number of different areas in the garden which we can have because it is a big space."
Held for over 20 years, the garden trail has 13 gardens around Waikanae to enjoy, from large, well established ones to others recently planted.
Tickets are $20, with children under 15 free if accompanied by an adult.
Refreshments will be available at two of the gardens and money raised this year will be donated to Zeal and Dementia Wellington.
Tickets can be purchased at Gus Evans Nurseries (Waikanae), Twiglands Garden World (Johnsonville), Harrisons Gardenworld (Peka Peka), Palmers Garden Centre (Plimmerton), Information Centre (I-Site Paraparaumu) or any trail garden or Waikanae Park & Ride car park ticket booth on the day.