News & Events

Great Gardens of the World

Ayrlies Garden and Wetlands has proudly been invited to join the prestigious Great Gardens of the World.

The greatest tribute of the international standing of Ayrlies was invitation by Grandi Giardini Italiani (Great Gardens of the World), an Italian trust established 25 years ago, to join the network. The website that includes prestigious gardens in twenty-seven countries hopes to be an inspiration for garden lovers worldwide. Ayrlies is the only New Zealand Garden to feature on the website so far. The organisation acknowledges that the real challenge is to develop marketing models that serve the reality of the garden sector to improve both the maintenance and appreciation of gardens.


Around the World in 80 Gardens by Monty Don 2008

In this stunning series, Monty Don sets off on an enchanting journey to visit 80 of the world's most celebrated gardens, including Ayrlies Garden.

British gardening enthusiast Monty Don believes that the best way to understand a culture is to visit its gardens. As such, he travels around the world visiting eighty gardens, some public, famous and iconic, and others private, mostly unknown but no less fascinating. Some of these gardens challenge his notion of the term garden, whether it be as a noun or a verb. Along the way, he speaks to many gardeners, landscapers and garden designers to learn the history, present and future of the gardens and sometimes of the culture in which they exist.

Ayrlies Garden and Wetlands is featured in Season 1 Episode 2, approximately 35 minutes in.


What Gardeners Grow

600 plants chosen by the world’s greatest plantspeople

Beautifully illustrated, this compendium turns the spotlight on a treasure trove of knowledge from a hidden gardening world. It is a celebration of gardeners, plantspeople and the work they do. Among the world’s most influential gardeners sharing their top favourite plants and trees, it includes entries by Ben Conway, Head Gardener at Ayrlies for over fifteen years. You will learn of his and many others’ personal plant preferences and their reasons for selection. Each entry provides informative information facilitating the adaptability of plants to situation. Collectively it is a wonderful source of inspiration when painting with plants in your own garden.
Published by Bloom books for Frances Lincoln 2023.


New Zealand Gardens to Visit

An inspiring guide to outstanding New Zealand gardens that are open to visit

At last a brilliant new compendium of beautiful and intriguing gardens to visit covering the whole of New Zealand grouped by area. 'On the outskirts of buzzing, hectic Auckland is Ayrlies, a huge country garden that has opened its gates to the public for nearly 50 years, offering city-dwellers a breather and a chance to lose themselves among waterfalls, a bird-filled wetlands and a captivating array of plants and trees.’
This publication is the result of a mighty match, Juliet’s outstanding photography and Rosemary’s wordsmith skills. A must read for any virtual or virtuous gardener. Author and creatives: Juliet Nicholas & Rosemary Barraclough 2022, Godwit.


Great Gardens - 12 of New Zealand's Best

The latest collector’s edition from NZ Life & Leisure

Over the years, NZ Life & Leisure has proudly brought stories about the country’s gardeners to a wide readership. The 12 gardens selected here, all national treasures, have never been featured together in one magazine and come with video footage. The gardens in this collection represent many decades of hard work - centuries if all the decades are combined. Will such gardens be created in the future? It’s hard to know as the price of land and the busy lives we lead may make this a challenge few can achieve. Perhaps these gardens are the result of unique set of circumstances, not to be repeated. Enjoy them while they are open to visitors.

NZ Life & Leisure, 2021


150 Gardens You Need To Visit Before You Die

An essential bucket list book for garden lovers!

A vast range of gardens, from immense botanical institutions with thousands of specimens, to smaller plots for quiet meditation, to museums that combine both artworks and plantings, Ayrlies is one of only five New Zealand gardens included in this volume of the world’s best gardens. A brief introduction to each garden hopefully inspires the reader to plan a visit. Author Stefanie Waldek, Published by Lannoo, 2022.



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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