Grow Ōtautahi – Christchurch Garden Festival: Sandi’s passion for gardening fuels show

Sandi MacRae shows off one of the gardens on display at this weekend’s Grow Ōtautahi –...
Sandi MacRae shows off one of the gardens on display at this weekend’s Grow Ōtautahi – Christchurch Garden Festival. Photo: Geoff Sloan
Sandi MacRae thinks she was born to garden.

Her parents Wendy and Tony owned gardening store Woodlands Nursery in Harewood for many years before it closed about a decade ago.

“I’m just born and bred in a garden centre,” MacRae said.

In spite of some resistance in her younger years, her parents’ passion for all things gardening rubbed off on her.

Said MacRae: “We used to come to the Botanic Gardens and mum and dad would say, ‘look at the metasequoia glyptostroboides [trees], isn’t that just stunning,’ and I’d be like, ‘yeah whatever.’

“But, I think, actually, it [gardening] is in my blood. I love plant combinations and gardens and creating outdoor spaces and bringing people together to do cool stuff.”

Now, MacRae will do just this through her role as director of the first ever Grow Ōtautahi – Christchurch Garden Festival.

The show will be held on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, 9am-5pm, at the Botanic Gardens. Entry is free.

The festival will include garden displays and landscape designs from a range of contributors, workshops and plant-based cooking displays.

MacRae said two of the highlights of the festival will be garden displays by pupils from schools across Christchurch and a collective display by volunteers from all of Christchurch’s 35 community gardens.

“Some of the highlights are, of course, going to be the school gardens.

“They’re amazing. Part of my role has been to go and visit all the school gardens as they’ve been doing the build up, buying the plants and planning.

“All 35 community gardens have come together to do one, big garden. It’s such a good story and they’re so passionate about the messages that they’re sharing about bringing the community together.”

MacRae runs MacRae Landscape Design for a day job and she has offered her expertise to support those who have created displays at the festival.

Grow Ōtautahi is owned and run by a charitable trust. The trust is supported by a network of service providers who are all Christchurch based.

For more information on the event visit

• Kiwi Gardener, a Star Media publication, is a sponsor of Grow Ōtautahi – Christchurch Garden Festival







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