News & Events



New Zealand Women and Their Extraordinary Gardens

Knowing how the magic is conjured does not undo the spell she’s (Bev’s) cast. It’s always a treat when you walk through Ayrlies, ambling from one area to the next, breathing in clouds of scent, past beds that change gear from bright to pastel, never being hurried by intrusive signs. Plantaholics revel in the amazing diversity – better than in many botanic gardens, some say. Bev is an artist, which may explain why many are captivated by her painterly touch with colour, and the way she composes flower beds as if they’re living canvases. - 2018 Juliet Nicholas and Barb Rogers, Godwit


The Plant Hunter

Truth, Beauty, Chaos and Plants

Gardeners are the luckiest people. Ayrlies is everything to Bev. It’s a landscape she has poured her heart, soul and sweat into over the last fifty years. Her love, care and spirit speak through the plants. ‘It’s a very nourishing place. Visitors sometimes arrive looking a bit stressed, but leave having relaxed and restored their soul a bit. That’s really what gardening is about – restoring the soul’. - 2018 Georgina Reid with photography by Daniel Shipp, Thames & Hudson


Gardens of the Greats

Expressions of Extraordinary People

Ayrlies, a place to restore our soul.
As with a painting, you need to consider view lines, proportions and colour combinations, but ‘a garden always has to start with what you love doing and with a dream that you pursue with dedication and energy. You never want to see it all at once but rather be made to look around the corners’. - 2018 Arnaud Daurat & Christina Duthil, Branche’ Landscapes

The Kiwi Living Programme

Tony Murrell visits Ayrlies

Characterised by sweeping lawns, ponds and waterways, Ayrlies covers an area of more than 12 acres (4.5 hectares). The success of the garden is all down to the extraordinary vision of one remarkable woman, the first lady of horticulture Bev McConnell (QSM - services to horticulture) who began the garden from scratch over half a century ago.


Horticulture's first lady

Gardening was Bev McConnell's first love. That and my family of course, says the 82 year old owner of Ayrlies garden. And it's that love and passion that had led to her peaceful haven being ranked in the Wall St Journal as one of the finest in the world.


NZ Life & Leisure

The significant gardener

It was wonderful to meet so many NZ Life & Leisure readers at the launch of Ayrlies. My story my garden by the inspirational Bev McConnell. It was a wonderful afternoon with hundreds of us all enjoying the beauty and tranquility of Ayrlies, Bev's garden in Whitford.


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