Hollard Gardens was established in 1927 by Bernie and Rose Hollard. Now owned and managed by the Taranaki Regional Council, it is a Garden of National Significance.
The name Hollard is synonymous with gardening. Garden enthusiasts in New Zealand and overseas have, for many years, added Hollard Gardens to their bucket list of places to visit.
Bernie Hollard’s interest in all things horticulture began in his early years while he helped his grandparents in their garden. In 1926, he bought the Upper Manaia Rd dairy farm, but was quick to bring in sharemilkers so that he could focus on his gardening. He was known to be working from dawn until dusk in the large garden, with Rose often having to search for him to remind him to eat. He was a hard-working and patient plantsman. He believed that the best plants were the ones worth waiting for. The plant that he bred and was well known for was the Rhododendron Kaponga which took 12 years to flower.
As a regular contributor to a national gardening magazine, Bernie was recognised by his peers for both his horticultural knowledge and his generosity in sharing it.
Hollard Gardens is unique in the fact that it is an achievement of almost a lifetime of work by a private individual. It is a plantsman’s garden and a reflection of patience and horticultural skill. Bernie selected his plants based on personal appeal and whether they would fill gaps in his existing collections of species or varieties. The overall design of the garden considered not only the aesthetics, but whether a plant would thrive in its environment. Bernie’s wife Rose Hollard worked alongside him in early years and grew her own knowledge of plants.
From the early 1970s, the gardens were open to the public over Labour weekend as a fundraiser for the Kaponga Lions Club. Although Hollards was a private garden, visitors were welcome and enthusiastic gardeners, horticulturalists and ornithologists visited by appointment. In the peak season, busloads of people arrived.