Tune in to the Botanic Gardens newsletter for upcoming events and seasonal changes.

Stay up to date with our seasonal Botanic Gardens newsletter

Spring 2019 articles

Wolfgang Bopp, Director Botanic Gardens and Garden Parks

Welcome to this spring edition of the Christchurch Botanic Gardens newsletter. Many of you have commented that flowering seems to be happening very quickly, which to me is one of the delights of spring. If you don’t look around the garden every week, or even better, every day, you are sure to miss some plants flowering and delighting the senses.

I am particularly enjoying the cherries around the city, in home gardens, local parks and of course, the magnificent display of cherry avenues in Hagley Park, and the many cultivars in the Botanic Gardens. The late flowering cultivars are still delighting with their display so if you have not been to the Botanic Gardens in the last week, do come and explore to enjoy the spring flowering.

Happy gardening.

Wolfgang Bopp, Director Botanic Gardens and Garden Parks

If you are looking to plant a small spring flowering tree in your garden, ornamental cherries have to be a contender. One well-known cultivar is the Japanese selection Amanogawa or Milky Way Cherry. Literally translated as ‘river of heaven’, it is an apt comparison for the galaxy of flowers covering the tree.

The semi-double soft pink blossoms flower reliably and clothe the entire tree, which is a small-to-medium size upright crown, suitable for the small garden space. Take a look as it comes into flower by the Peace Bell.

Dean Pendrigh, Collection Curator Botanic Gardens

Cercis canadensis, the so-called Eastern redbud, is a small tree with heart-shaped leaves that can grow up to 9 m high. The flowers are pink and in clusters of two to eight, appearing on bare branches before the leaves in early October. As the proper name suggests, it is native to Canada but can also be found in eastern USA and eastern Mexico. This specimen is located near Te Puna Ora Spring of Life, at the entrance of the Water Garden. The red-leaved form C.canadensis ‘Forest Pansy’ is located in the Azalea Garden, adjacent to the ‘Inside Out’ sculpture. It does not reach the same size and is therefore much more suitable for a small garden.

Cercis siliquastrum, or the Judas tree, like C. canadensis has pink flowers that grow in clusters of up to six flowers. This species holds onto its seed pods right through winter and into the following spring. It is native to S.W Asia and S.E Europe and grows up to 12 m high. You can see a young plant growing in the east border in the water next to the stone seat.

Magnolia yunnanensis, more commonly known under the old name of Michelia, is a medium-sized evergreen shrub or small tree. The glossy leaves have a rusty brown underside but the highlight is the scented white flowers which grow up to 4 cm in diameter.

Corynabutilon vitifolium ( syn. Abutilon vitifolium), or Flowering maple, is a shrub or small tree that grows up to 4.5 m high. The flowers are typically mauve to light blue though the one by the Azalea garden lawn has white flowers. The flowers are about 5 cm in diameter, the leaves are maple shaped and covered in star-shaped hairs

Veronica townsonii (syn. Hebe townsonii) is only found naturally along the coast in the northwestern part of the South Island. It is a shrub that can reach about 1.5 m and boasts pretty white flowers. It is easily identified from other hebes by the line of domatia (pits or depressions on leaf underside). Find in the hebe collection, between the Water Garden and the river.

Tasmania stipitata, commonly called Dorrigo pepper, is a member of the winter bark family and related to New Zealand Horopito. This plant forms a large shrub that grows up to 3 m high. The glossy evergreen leaves are a narrow oval shape and fragrant when crushed. Male and female flowers grow on separate trees. See the male in the Botanic Gardens, near the north entrance of the Water Garden. A native of NSW, Australia, the white flowers grow in clusters. 

Wolfgang Bopp, Director Botanic Gardens and Garden Parks

Spring is at its most glorious when bulbs such as snowdrops, daffodils, crocuses and bluebells are in flower. However, this is only the beginning of their annual life cycle. It’s important to leave the strap-shaped leaves to get as much light as possible to generate the energy needed to develop next year’s flower bud.

For bulbs in lawns and grassy areas, don’t mow until the leaves are fully yellow. Within your garden beds, allow the foliage to die down naturally. To keep your garden looking tidy, you can tie the leaves into ‘ponytails’. When the leaves have yellowed and dried you can carefully cut them off or cover them with a layer of mulch or compost to help improve the soil condition. 

Autumn 2019 articles

Wolfgang Bopp, Director Botanic Gardens and Garden Parks

We would like to send our condolences and heartfelt best wishes to everyone directly and indirectly affected by recent events. You are in our thoughts. We hope that at this difficult time the Botanic Gardens can be a tranquil place to take time out for yourself or have quality time with family and friends. It's heartening to see so many people, locals and visitors alike, coming together to show their support and pay their respects at the Rolleston Avenue wall. Thank you.

You'll find something new and interesting in our autumn edition of the Botanic Gardens newsletter. Two of our team members share some of their seasonal highlights with you.

On behalf of my wife and myself, I would like to thank you for your very kind welcome. It has been 6 months since we arrived in New Zealand and, while we still have a lot to learn, we are enjoying making Christchurch our home. As we see the first leaves turn, we are excited to experience our first autumn here. The Acer rubrum Red Sunset (‘Franskred’), or red maple, is leading the way with striking red foliage. I hope you will join us over the next few months as the Gardens evolve through its autumn display(external link).

With so much to see and do this season, the Friends of the Botanic Gardens(external link) offer many ways to get involved. See below to find out more.

If you know someone who would enjoy this newsletter, you are welcome to forward this to them or they can register here.(external link)

Thank you for your support. See you soon.

Richard Poole, Team Leader Botanic Gardens Collections

Richard and his team planting

The summer bedding display this season has been very popular, with many good comments from the public.

Some of the highlights this year have been Celosia argentea var. plumosa ‘Fresh Look Mixed’, Ornamental Millet, Pennisetum glaucum ‘Jade Princess’ and ‘Purple Barron’. These have added an exotic look to the beds and have been a firm favourite with visitors.

Canna lily, Canna generalis cultivars have been used to give height and effect with their bold tropical looking foliage and vivid colours.

Planning is well under way for our winter display which will feature over 4000 Tulips.

Celosia, millet and canna lily on display

Lizzy Bristow, Collection Curator

Although species roses and some of the Old Fashioned roses will only flower once in the spring , most will put on a show of colour again in the autumn with a striking display of hips. With warm autumnal hues of reds and oranges, colouring up at staggered times depending on the rose, the display will last through the autumn and well into winter to brighten up the greyest of winter days.

Rosa rugosa and its cultivars have some of the largest hips, some up to 3cm in diameter, a vibrant glossy red colour when ripe which some say resembles a Tomato! In fact one of the many common names for this rose is ‘Sea Tomato’ - not the most flattering name for a rose.

Rose hips have been used for centuries for medicinal purposes, made into jams, syrups, jellies, soups and even bread and wine. It is a potent source of vitamin C, with Rosa canina, sometimes known as the ‘Dog Rose’ or ‘Wild Rose’, containing the most vitamin C having 10-50 times that of an Orange! The amount of vitamins varies greatly between species and growing conditions, with rose hips grown in cooler climates having higher levels of vitamin C. Rosa canina is an invasive species and can be seen growing wild on roadsides, riverbeds and wild places all across the country.

From top left to right: Rosa roxburghii var. hirtula, Rosa moyesii, Rosa helenae
From bottom left to right: Rosa moyesii 'Geranium', Rosa 'Double White Burnett', Rosa rugosa 'Scabrosa'