Olympic medal winners add golden touch to Savill Gardens launch

New Zealand's Olympic medal-winning rowers added a golden touch on Tuesday afternoon to the unveiling of a sculpture at the New Zealand Garden at The Savill Garden in Windsor Great Park near London.

Gold medallist Mahe Drysdale cut the ribbon for the artwork, designed by New Zealander John Edgar. Also in attendance were Kiwi rowers Joseph Sullivan, Rebecca Scown, Juliette Haigh, Peter Taylor, Storm Uru, Eve McFarlane and Emma Twigg. The rowers competed just a few kilometres away at Eton Dorney last week.

The designer of the garden, which opened in 2007, is landscape architect Sam Martin, who is from Christchurch but is now London-based. "The Crown Estate is a big landowner in the UK and the New Zealand collection is the only national collection on its land, so this is a fantastic opportunity." Martin spent three years working on bringing a sculpture to the garden with the help of Auckland arts administrator Trish Clark.

Martin said the inspiration behind the garden is the unique and diverse habitats of his native country. The garden showcases 3,000 New Zealand plants.

Expat New Zealand horticulturist James Fraser, who helped source plants for the garden in 2007, said: "There's a fantastic relationship between New  Zealand plants and gardening here in the UK. I hope the Savill Garden will inspire people to use New Zealand plants in the UK in the future."

Windsor Great Park deputy ranger Philip Everett said: "This sculpture completes the final part of the jigsaw of the New Zealand garden."

Crown Estate chairman Sir Stuart Hampson said: "The Crown Estate welcomes the kind gift of this marvellous sculpture from a number of benefactors, which not only reflects the concepts within the New Zealand Garden of journey, discovery, uniqueness and contemplation but has also enabled us to continue to build on our associtaion with New Zealand. The unveiling is also timely given the fact that the UK is welcoming many nations from across the world to the summer games 2012."

The garden, which attracts 120,000 visitors a year, was founded in 1986 after a donation of New Zealand plants from the New Zealand government to the Queen following her state visit. In 2007, the garden re-opened as a redesigned and bigger space featuring many plants from the Chelsea Flower Show 2005 Tourism New Zealand garden designed by New Zealand designer Xanthe White. 

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