Before I went to Christchurch I checked out where I would be staying on google maps. I noticed that it was in walking distance of the botanic gardens. On my first morning I took my morning walk there with a friend. The walk turned into more of a meander as we stopped often to check out the flowers, trees, shrubs and peace bell. Christchurch Botanic gardens has that effect of making you stop and enjoy the gorgeous surrounds.
The gardens reminded me of Melbourne’s botanic garden. Although I haven’t been there since I was a kid, visits there stand out for me. It was a magical place. Because Christchurch’s climate is similar to Melbourne it makes sense that similar trees, plants and flowers would be in both gardens.
Christchurch was devastated by earthquakes in 2011. The city is still re-building. I can see how this tranquil place would be a space to offer relaxation after the destruction of the earthquakes. The hospital is also alongside one boundary of the gardens…that garden view would be a welcome sight from a hospital room.
Kaitiaki is a Maori term for guardianship. The people of post-earthquake Christchurch needed a keeper, a guardian of their community to help them keep faith in the future of their city. This living art installation was created in 2013. It celebrates the role that Christchurch botanic gardens and Canterbury museum plays as the keeper/guardian of the city’s treasures. It was only supposed to be a temporary display – it was so successful that it was planted with native ferns and kept for the community as a permanent art piece to be celebrated through Christchurch’s re-build.
There was areas of the garden that were daffodil woodlands. The yellow daffodils hadn’t quite popped out yet but I could imagine how pretty it would look when they did.
Botanic gardens can have a formality about them with neat, well-maintained areas. To see some wilderness about made me feel like I was in a cool climate forest somewhere. I loved this as I don’t get to experience this living in a sub-tropical environment.
The Armstrong Lawn had garden beds filled with brightly coloured blooms. This display was a delight. Photos do not do these beautiful garden beds justice.
Reading about why this lawn was created was interesting. Even though Armstrong liked the native plants of the area, he was instructed to use plants familiar to the European settlers. Lucky that the climate here is not harsh like ours! But I guess that transition into a completely new environment would be made easier by having a place that could soothe any homesickness.
And I saw tulips! Another flower that I don’t get to see in my climate. I visited Tesselaars farm in Victoria many moons ago. Tesselaars is well known for their tulip displays. I haven’t seen tulips since then. What I love about tulips is that contrast between the green stem and flower’s vibrant colour, their graceful shape – they are an elegant flower to me.
Riot of Colour
It wasn’t just the garden bed displays that added colour around the gardens. Flowering shrubs dotted paths…there were some rhododendrons bursting with flowers – so many there was no green to be seen.
Cherry blossom trees added a pretty touch of soft pink colour. The deep dark hues of Japanese maple tree leaves added a different dimension to the colour palette of the gardens.
New Zealand Garden
Most botanic gardens will have a section of plants and trees that are native to that area. Towering trees and ground ferns combined with the chill in the air, this garden reminded me of a cool temperate rainforest.
The Kowhai tree was here as well. I had seen flowers that I thought were yellow chilies from a distance. When I got closer to them, I realised they were flowers. I thought they were so pretty and I had never seen them before. I later found out they were from the native Kowhai tree.
Botanic gardens hold all sorts of plants that you wouldn’t see everyday. The Anchor plant was one of these. This was a formidable looking shrub. It was large as well – it would make a great guard plant!
Shout Out to an Aussie
I couldn’t resist taking a pic of this groundcover Grevillea ‘Aussie Crawl’ 🙂
As Christchurch’s botanical gardens cover 30 hectares, I didn’t get to experience all of its beauty in the short time I was here. So if I were to visit again, the gardens would be on my re-visit list.
Christchurch is known as a garden city. If you like gardens there are also plenty of other gorgeous parks and gardens to visit. For more information about these, visit Find ChCh.
To find out more about the botanic gardens visit Christchurch City Councils website.