A nice little place to park in the heart of New Plymouth

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When the doors are closed at Hotel Nice, you might find Terry Parkes relaxing in his tropical sanctuary out back.

Under the skyduster palms (Washingtonia robusta), the owner of the boutique hotel finds peace.

“If I go out here with a gin and see a stream of light by the lemon tree, I’ll sit there. I am the sun,” says Terry, who has just returned from Portugal with rainbow-coloured suede shoes.

He also likes to pull up a chair and watch goldfish.

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“I spend a lot of time here; I like it better when no one is around which is a silly thing to say for a hotel owner.

The trunks of Sky Duster palms appear to be woven.

Andy MacDonald / Stuff

The trunks of Sky Duster palms appear to be woven.

The impacts of the Covid pandemic have resulted in the hotel being closed on Sundays and Mondays. “I love it – it becomes my home.”

The one he shares with his partner John, whose calming influence and supportive nature has been extremely helpful to Terry.

In contrast to the solitary, Terry is a colorful character, ready with an acerbic quip or a sparkling thread, often served with sparkling wine, probably on the flowery terrace overlooking the luxurious garden.

People walk through the door and don’t realize this little tropical oasis is here. It’s a constant “wow, wow, wow”.

The garden is filled with ferns, cycads, nikau, sky feather dusters, impatiens, lemon and lime trees, bromeliads, small and giant bird of paradise plants, mondo grass, as well as renga renga springing from an urn.

Parkes is one of life's colorful characters, but sometimes

Andy MacDonald / Stuff

Parkes is one of life’s colorful characters, but sometimes “I just want to go upstairs and eat some toast.”

There are also “Monstera deliciosa floribunda”.

Skip the floribunda and you have the fruit salad, which grows under the Nice bridge.

Add the floribunda and you have an invented Terry Parkesism.

“During the garden party, when people ask me ‘what is this?’ Monstera deliciosa floribunda – I say that for everything. Some believe it, some pretend to believe it, and some don’t. I think, why is the name important unless you want to buy one? »

Sometimes he has other answers.

When asked what kind of ferns grow under the towering palms, he replies “green fern, light green fern, dark green fern”.

Although he may not be aware of the foliage, he is always reliable when friends or the community need him.

He’s in there, funky boots and all, supporting charities and causes, though the Covid climate has tempered his ability to help as much as he wants.

At this time of year, the Nice is adorned with Slater orchids, including on the bridge.

Andy MacDonald / Stuff

At this time of year, the Nice is adorned with Slater orchids, including on the bridge.

As a hotel host, Terry is warm and welcoming, charming and cheeky.

For the Centuria Taranaki Garden Festival, it will welcome the public at n°20 of the program of 43 gardens.

The festival, from October 28 to November 6, collaborates with the Taranaki Arts Trail with 79 artists and the Taranaki Sustainable Backyards Trail with 30 properties.

Listed under the category of “Special Interest”, Terry invites people to enjoy a “Lunch in a tropical oasis”, or to come and rest and drink a wine between the gardens, while soaking up the beauty of the small garden. behind the old timber tenement on Brougham St.

Built around 1885, the hotel was once the practice of Dr. George Walker. “His father was also a doctor,” said Terry. “Since then, the family has come back and stayed. They love this place and gave me George Walker’s plaque, saying he’s a doctor.

The plaque is affixed to the facade of the Nice Hotel.

“The cabinet is now the Table restaurant and the waiting room is now the lobby bar,” says Terry, who has lived in the building since 1994, converting it into a hotel in 2000.

The preservation of homes and history is important to Taranaki man.

“It would have been easier to bowl and more economical – the upkeep is amazing.”

Don Driver's artwork hangs on the deck above a large flower display created by friend Sashil, who arranges all of Terry's flowers.

Andy MacDonald / Stuff

Don Driver’s artwork hangs on the deck above a large flower display created by friend Sashil, who arranges all of Terry’s flowers.

Over the past four months, The Nice has been rejuvenated with new carpets, fresh paint and the artwork has been altered.

The garden, on the other hand, is relatively easy to maintain.

At first, Terry thought it was too hard.

“I had two or three different gardens which I tried to do myself with banana trees, renga renga around the pond and the waterfall, but it never progressed. It peaked and had looks shabby.

Thus, twenty years ago, he called on the talents of landscaper and interior designer Michael Mansvelt.

The gardening star hatched a plan that uncovered areas Terry says he would never have seen.

“The few days he planted it I was away and when I came back I was amazed at the austerity. There were all these little palm trees.

Monstera deliciosa, giant strelitzia and large bromeliads line the goldfish pond.

Andy MacDonald / Stuff

Monstera deliciosa, giant strelitzia and large bromeliads line the goldfish pond.

But patience is a virtue with gardens, and Michael’s design prowess has paid off and continues to thrive.

“In 12 months I could see the value of money and now, 20 years later, with these tall tropical palms…” he says, looking up at the dusters of the sky soaring away.

As the palm trees grew, Terry wondered if anything could be done to stop the trunks from looking too bare, so Michael used wire netting to create ‘tree gardens’ of orchids and bromeliads. These look like clumps of epiphytes, which grow naturally on trees in the native bush.

Terry says the garden doesn’t need much maintenance but continues to thrive with the care and attention of his friend Lynnie Parker, who comes every Friday.

“It’s a labor of love for her, with a few glasses of bubbles,” he says.

She prunes, removes dead matter, tidies up with the leaf blower and feeds everything with liquid fertilizer.

“It’s the answer to a lush garden – fertilizer,” says Terry.

A bird of paradise flower adds vibrant color to the verdant garden of Hotel Nice.

Andy MacDonald / Stuff

A bird of paradise flower adds vibrant color to the verdant garden of Hotel Nice.

Birds, lights, music, food and people also help the garden to thrive, bringing it to life.

Fantails flit among plants and people, a kereru sits in the pōhutukawa, and tui dances around the New Zealand Christmas tree.

At the front of the hotel is a pōhutukawa known as “Māori Princess”, presented by Duncan & Davies.

“They are a bloody nuisance. They bloom for a week and a half, followed by six months of chaos.

Roots and crimson flowers block the sewers and red sprigs run through the hotel, while other flower bits land on the outdoor chairs, disturbing those seated.

“Having said all that, I wouldn’t be without them.”

The Nice garden is also illuminated.

The downtown garden is a popular wedding venue.

Andy MacDonald / Stuff

The downtown garden is a popular wedding venue.

“There are a lot of solar lights in the garden, so when it gets dark it turns into a fairyland.”

The one who has seen many weddings.

Terry has been a celebrant for 15 years, taking on the role when people were needed to perform civil unions.

In the garden he took part in many ceremonies, mainly for second marriages, and in the community he officiated in many funerals.

There were a few memorial services on the bridge or in the garden at Le Nice and, along with the weddings, there was a feast of other celebrations and events.

“The garden was a milestone in many people’s lives,” says Terry.

But her favorite night of festivities was her own 60th birthday. “I had the whole pipe band, a champagne and crawfish station outside and another station inside, and live music.”

During the garden festival, Terry welcomed green-fingered people from all over Aotearoa and the world, including some stars like former garden presenter Maggie Barry, famous florist and craft designer Astar and bugman Rudd Kleinpaste.

“Most everyone who has been associated with the gardens has stayed here,” he says. “I made friends for life.”

Among the latter are groups of women who traveled from Australia to attend the festival and men from Hero Gardens in Auckland.

“The place (the hotel) is so flamboyant that it really attracts the rainbow community,” says Terry.

“It’s a garden full of stories.”

This story is published as part of a partnership between the Taranaki Daily News and the TAFT Arts Festival Charitable Trust.

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