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Christchurch Botanic Gardens 140 years old

3 July 2003

This month the Christchurch Botanic Gardens celebrates its 140th anniversary. The planting of an oak tree on July 9 1863 is generally regarded as the foundation of what has become one of the finest collections of exotic and indigenous plants to be found anywhere in New Zealand.

The oak, Quercus robur, was planted to commemorate the marriage of Queen Victoria’s eldest son Prince Albert Edward to Princess Alexandra of Denmark. One hundred and forty years later, a tree planting and afternoon tea is being held for current and former staff and Friends of the Gardens to celebrate the anniversary.

“ Without a doubt, the Botanic Gardens are the jewel in the city’s crown,” says Cr Carole Anderton, Chair of the Parks, Gardens and Waterways Committee.

In the latest Citizens Survey, residents identified the Botanic Gardens as the top attraction to show visitors Christchurch at its best.

But Councillor Anderton adds that the Gardens need an injection of capital in order to maintain a high standard. “They are rated alongside the top botanic gardens in the world, and are rightfully treasured by Christchurch people. Over the last decade, however, the site has lacked some development. Investment in the Botanic Gardens is just as important as in any other part of the city, and councillors are committed to improving both the buildings and the collections in the next couple of years.”

Today the grounds of the Botanic Gardens cover an area of around 30 hectares (74 acres), mostly within a loop of the Avon River. Numerous large majestic trees, many exceeding 120 years, form an interesting background to the various plant collections in the Gardens.

At the celebration next Wednesday descendents of Enoch Barker, the first Government Gardener, have been asked to plant a commemorative tree that is a progeny of the original Albert Edward Oak planted on the Botanic Gardens site. Current staff, former staff and Friends of the Gardens are welcome to attend the celebration. Those wishing to attend should contact the Gardens Information Centre (03) 941 7591 by Monday 07 July 2003.

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