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Christchurch, The Garden City, In Spring
Dorothy 3/11/00

Driving around Christchurch in the spring certainly confirms the appropriateness of calling it the Garden City. The daffodils and cherry trees beside the Avon River near Christchurch Hospital and the cherry trees and the carpet of bluebells near Harper Avenue make a wonderful show. Other parks and private gardens have spring bulbs in abundance.

As those flowers of early spring begin to fade the azaleas and rhododendrons and later flowering cherry trees in parks and home gardens provide a feast of colour.

Cherry tree
Spring in home gardens
Spring in home gardens
Ilam Gardens
The Ilam gardens at the University of Canterbury and the plantings around the University buildings are well worth a visit.

Azaleas in Ilam Gardens
Azaleas in Ilam Gardens
Orton Bradley Park
Orton Bradley Park at Charteris Bay on the Lyttelton Harbour has a rhododendron garden developed in recent years by the Canterbury Rhododendron Society.

The Botanic Gardens
In the Botanic Gardens there is a succession of displays of flowers - the daffodils and cherry trees, rhododendrons, azaleas, the iris garden in late October, and the roses from November onward. You can see these on foot with a map from the information centre or ride on the tour vehicle with commentary from the driver. Tours run from 11 am to 3 pm daily, with longer hours in summer and the cost is $6.00 for an adult.

Monavale
The gardens at Monavale are particularly lovely in the spring, with flowering trees and a colourful iris garden, and with the rose garden flowering from November on. Be sure to visit the historic fernery while you are there.

New plantings in Hagley Park thanks to a generous gift
This year I noticed new beds being prepared under the trees in South Hagley Park across Deans Avenue from Nancy's Hotel. These beds are now filled with young azalea plants gifted by Christchurch businessman, Kenneth Weaver. After visiting the Ilam Gardens he was so impressed by the beauty of the place that he asked the University of Canterbury to propagate a thousand colourful azaleas to be planted in South Hagley Park to give pleasure each spring to people driving to work. The scheme is being funded by the Kenneth F. Weaver Charitable Trust Incorporated.

New azalea plantings in South Hagley Park
New azalea plantings in South Hagley Park

Raising the plants a big challenge
When Mr Weaver proposed the scheme University of Canterbury propagator, Simon McCarthy, was faced with a real challenge. Raising a thousand azaleas would be a daunting prospect for most gardeners because azaleas are particularly difficult to propagate, having a poor strike rate from cuttings. Simon hand-selected the plants in 1993. They were not more than an inch long. He gave them constant care in the first eighteen months and has continued to nurture them for seven years till they are now thriving and planted out in their new site.

Visit Christchurch in the spring
When you plan your next visit to the South Island remember that spring is a particularly colourful time to visit the Garden City.






 
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