Michael Midgely had no immediate plans to move to Hawke's Bay, but a garden intervened.

Located just off the Napier to Taupō Road in Te Pohue, Trelinnoe Park is a Garden of National Significance.

"It was screaming out for someone to buy it," the Auckland-based businessman said.

"It's an absolute treasure and the climate is very similar to the east coast of the South Island. So it is familiar and I know Hawke's Bay.

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"Moving to Hawke's Bay wasn't on the immediate agenda but you don't turn down opportunities like this one.

"One of the special things about this garden is it has one of the largest collections of magnolias in the world.

"There are hundreds, thousands of trees. And azaleas and rhododendrons and many, many rare and special plants."

Trellinoe Park is a 60 year labour of love. Photo / Patrick O'Sullivan
Trellinoe Park is a 60 year labour of love. Photo / Patrick O'Sullivan

"This is a rare international gem of a garden. It is not a manicured garden, it is a place for people to enjoy."

Admission is $10 per adult for the day and while the cafe is closed for now, people are welcome to bring their own lunch.

"Most people come and walk. And you can walk for one, two or three hours or more and have a picnic lunch."

Trelinnoe Park was a 60-year labour of love for John and Fiona Wills and family. It was originally part of their 1000ha farm.

John and Fiona died within weeks of each other in 2014, with Fiona's passing making headlines because the Alzheimer's patient seemingly vanished, last seen tending her chickens.

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Her disappearance was made more newsworthy because her son was former Federated Farmers national and Hawke's Bay president, Bruce Wills.

"Dear old mother is out there somewhere - we simply don't know," he said.

"One day there'll be closure, we'll wait and see.

"Leaving was difficult when we didn't have closure for her but, on the other side of things, it was their garden. Mum and Dad spent almost 60 years building that place.

"We couldn't find any farmer quite mad enough to take on a 13ha garden as well as the farm, so in the end we sold the gardens separately.

"I got to spend some time with Michael and he is certainly passionate. I hope he gets as much enjoyment from it as we did."

Trelinnoe Park's new owner Michael Midgley says gardening is the only passion that increases with age.
Trelinnoe Park's new owner Michael Midgley says gardening is the only passion that increases with age.

Midgely acknowledges the work of John and Fiona Wills.

"This property is a work of their genius," he said.

"It is unique with special things you won't find anywhere else, so that's why I'm here.

"Gardening is the only passion that increases with age."

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