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Overgrown lawn prompted garden revamp

Oleg Kiriaev's out-of-control lawn sparked his passion for planting.

Ten years ago he was deeply involved in his medical training, on call most weekends and didn't have a spare minute to tend his patch.

A neighbour's bold suggestion that he ought to hire someone to deal to the forest in his backyard got him fired up.

"I mowed it and the ball started rolling from there. I went overboard thinking about what I could do."

The green-fingered 40-year-old is now happy to show off the fruits of his labour in the Heroic Gardens Festival this weekend.

The 2014 event features 21 gardens from Titirangi to Whitford with many on show for the first time.

Mr Kiriaev's gardening roots go back to childhood. Each child in his family had a section of the vegetable garden to call their own and he was in charge of the beans.

It is the second year Mr Kiriaev has shown his garden in the festival. He was completing his palliative care training at Mercy Hospice when he first entered in 2012.

Knowing the organisation the money helps is a big motivator for him.

He now divides his time between Totara Hospice and the Greenlane Clinical Centre.

"It's such a privileged area to work in. When a person is at the end of their life the experiences that they have will live for their families afterwards. If we have an ability to influence that it can be immensely satisfying."

Mr Kiriaev's garden is now seven years old and shows what can be achieved on a small suburban lot in a fairly short space of time, he says.

He started with a subtropical garden but has since turned to a more "eclectic" selection.

He says the plants are worth the hundreds of dollars he spends on water bills.

The Heroic Garden Festival is now in its 18th year. It is a fundraiser for Mercy Hospice Auckland and raised $70,000 in 2013.

It is on Saturday and Sunday from 10am to 6pm. Tickets giving access to all 21 gardens are $40 per person. Individual garden entry is $8.

Go to www.heroicgardens.org.nz for more information

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