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Going native and sustainable at the Christchurch Botanic Gardens

10 December 2008


The Christchurch Botanic Gardens now has in place permanent displays of both formal and informal gardens demonstrating how native plants can be used in a sustainable way in an urban context.

The permanent display, Gardening with Indigenous Plants, highlighting the aesthetic and creative use of indigenous plants for the urban environment, will be open to the public from today(Wednesday December 10).

Located next to the collection of New Zealand plant cultivars and the Herb Garden, the display features a large number of different native trees, shrubs and herbaceous species and ferns with the emphasis on displaying species that the average gardener would not have seen before in a garden context.

"We hope the display will stimulate an interest in using these species and creating a demand for nurseries to propagate them," says Dr Colin Meurk, Landcare Research, the ecological consultant for the garden design.

Dr Ignatieva of the Landscape Architecture Department of Lincoln University, along with colleagues Dr Colin Meurk of Landcare Research and Associate Professor Glenn Stewart of Lincoln University and Landscape Architecture students, initiated the project through a Foundation for Research, Science and Technology grant on Low Impact Urban Design and Development (LIUDD) of which the permanent display is the practical part. The display involves the principles of LIUDD at individual residential property scale to improve sustainability, efficiency and biodiversity. Most materials in the garden are recycled, says Dr Ignatieva.

"We need to demonstrate best practice in various aspects of sustainable cities - such as maximising biodiversity values in the context of gardens and landscaping and addressing the limited community knowledge about the versatility and variety of indigenous plants," she says.

The Botanic Garden, working with Lincoln University and Landcare Research staff, Friends of Christchurch Botanic Gardens and nurseries who donated all plants, put together the display after researching plant material and working on the design elements. The 45 m x 5 m display consists of three gardens: Rock/scree Garden, Bush Garden and Formal Garden. There are several hard structures: stepping stone pathway, rocks, sand dunes, boardwalk, seats, fountains, trellis, roof-garden structure, pavement in Formal Garden.

The informal bush garden is mixture of shade-tolerant and shade-providing native trees, shrubs and grasses set in dry to rainy bush setting. The rock/scree garden features small, drought-tolerant plants from riverbeds, coasts and cliffs; and the formal garden shows how native plants are suitable for hedges, pavements and ‘green’ roofs.

Gardening with Indigenous Plants opens at 3 pm today. Botanical Services Operations Team Manager, Jeremy Hawker says the gardens can make a valuable contribution to biodiversity goals in the city. "It is also a great appreciation of our wonderful plant heritage, celebrating and revealing our native plants and providing ways of using them," says Mr Hawker.

The Project was funded by the Friends of the Christchurch Botanic Gardens as part of their commitment to enhancing the gardens for both residents and visitors to Christchurch.

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