From The Archives: Maureen Opens Gardens Again

Maureen Ostler will be 80 in October, but neither older bones nor wet winters deter her from sprucing up her four-acre garden for the annual Taranaki Garden Spectacular, for which tickets are now

She has started planting spring colour and getting everything ship-shape for the 600 plus visitors she expects through her gates during the event, October 26 November 4. Her garden is one of three in Stratford in the event.

She featured in the June edition of the New Zealand Gardener, and says why she loves gardening is that it keeps her busy. “I love it. I love work, full stop.

This will be her 18th year taking part in the regional garden fest (formerly the Taranaki Garden Festival) and she says as long as she is able, she will open her garden up for visitors to enjoy and share in her passion for all things gardening. “I want people to come have a look, to share our love for gardening and what we have done.

She and husband Arthur, who passed away 20 years ago, started the garden from scratch on buying 20 acres on Warwick Road in Stratford after retiring from farming. “It was an empty paddock. There were only the big gums in the middle.” Maureen says she did not always have green thumbs; she learnt the skills on the job.

The garden “evolved” around three Ostler-made lakes, fed by springs. A favourite spot of Maureen in her garden is the upper lake fringed by maples rhododendrons and hostas, which beautifully reflect in the water. Two black swans, nearly 25 years old, favours the lower lake, while six black youngsters grace the middle lake. The Ostler garden though, offers a cacophony of bird song, including tui.

All proceeds from Ostler’s Garden goes towards the Stratford Lions; another reason why Maureen encourages feet through. Maureen was last year made a life member. In Central Taranaki, tickets for this must-do event are available from the Stratford and Inglewood information centers and from Stratford Mitre 10.

Trish Dent at the Stratford Information Centre says most people wait until just before the event to purchase tickets. An earlybird will get the worm though, with all tickets purchased by September 21 going into a prize package draw. Ask the outlet where you buy your tickets, to enter your name into the draw.