There's a flurry of pruning, staking, lawn mowing and window washing happening across Whangarei today, as some of the district's best gardeners prepare for three days of fame.

They are getting ready for the 20th Whangarei Garden Discovery, an event tipped to attract more than 1000 people who take a self-guided tour through 20 spectacular gardens over Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

Among those featured is the garden of Parua Bay's Nadine Whitton, who yesterday was "rushing around covered in mud".

"We just love it ... When you're passionate it's lovely to share it," Ms Whitton, whose garden had featured twice before, said.


Ms Whitton gardens before work, after work until sundown, and on the weekend she and her husband put in the big shifts: 7am to 8.30pm.

She described her 9-acre garden as having "a bit of everything": Bush walks, fragrance, sea views, sculpture, even the odd cow or alpaca. "And lots and lots of flowers."

This year's event featured 10 returning gardens as well as 10 never before seen.

Finding the gardens to feature is a journey in itself, said Ms Whitton, who also helps organise the event.

"It's actually quite difficult. We pretty much do it by talking to lots and lots of people," she said.

Event volunteer Sandra Wheeler is showcasing her kauri garden for the fourth time and remembers being "discovered".

"Two ladies came up the drive and asked if we'd like to put our garden in ... I didn't know what Garden Discovery was but I said yes.

"All gardens evolve over time so it will be exciting to see how they have developed."

Ms Whitton said some people went all-out preparing for the event.

"They think about entrance ways, washing the windows, cleaning the decks ... People really dress their gardens for the occasion."

Proceeds from the event go to Whangarei Quarry Gardens, also the first stop on the trail.

Tickets $20 from Whangarei Quarry Gardens; the i-Site at 92 Otaika Rd; The Town Basin Hub; Sciadopitys Garden Centre; Kamo Pet & Aquatic Centre; Palmers Garden Centre on Water St; or by emailing

Gardens are all within 20 minutes of Whangarei CBD and are open 9am to 4pm, November 18 to 20.