Taranaki's premier gardening event is taking on a ecological bent this year.
"There's a theme around sustainability, organics and taking things back to basics," said Lisa Ekdahl, festival manager at the launch of the Taranaki Garden Spectacular this week.
Ms Ekdahl said this was reflected in events such as Kath Irvine's The Abundant Veggie Patch Workshop, Ecostore founder Malcolm Rands' 'No Nasty Chemicals' presentation and 'Home Made' with celebrity chef Simon Gault.
"The thing about Simon [Gault] is that he's not just a fabulous chef, he is an entertainer who is concerned that his entire audience has a great experience," Ms Ekdahl said.
In the speaker series, Jodi Roebuck, otherwise known as the Seed Keeper, will show people around his bio-intensive property at Omata. There are also talks on bees and bee-keeping and monarch butterflies.
Roebuck's is one of seven new gardens in New Zealand's premier spring festival, which runs from October 30 to November 8.
The six others are the Palmer Garden at Hawera, KenKora at Opunake, Manganui at Inglewood, Te Puke Awa at Lepperton, plus Hilltop Vista and Holyoake Garden, both in New Plymouth.
These gardens were spread around Taranaki and vary greatly in styles, said Ms Ekdahl.
"We have contemporary inner-city slightly tropical gardens to more traditional ones in rural settings."
In total, there are 47 open gardens in the 28th annual festival which is sponsored by Powerco.
Ms Ekdahl said the Spectacular was ever-changing and many people involved in the festival planned to expand visitors' experience by providing food, having pop-up shops, displaying artworks or opening up the family home.
"It is evolving as younger people become interested in gardening and the experience it can bring as a focus for entertaining and sharing with their friends and eventually the public."
Guest speaker at the launch, Egmont Seeds general manager, John McCullough, said that was what the festival was all about.
"It allows a brief sharing of the pleasure, pride and reward between the visitors and our best gardeners. These gardens act as an inspiration to some of us and a testament to those that created and maintain them," he said.
"So much skill, patience, time and dedication goes into these masterpiece gardens. It is just fantastic how they will share their works with us."
Tony Barnes, one of the garden assessors for the Spectacular, said the people who opened their properties for the festival were plant lovers.
"Taranaki has such a huge variety of plants that grow well and we are passionate gardeners and real gardeners," he said. "Because people are interested in different sorts of plants we get the different designs of gardens to go with the plants."
A long-time assessor and nurseryman, Mr Barnes and his partner John Sole have entered their garden, Ngamamaku at Oakura, into the festival on and off since 1990.
Mr Barnes said not only were gardens assessed before joining the festival, but those accepted were then inspected every three years.
"We feel it's important that standards are maintained, because people come from around New Zealand and the world to see the gardens," Mr Barnes said.