Designing for a sustainable future

Sustainability is a buzzword which permeates flower shows these days – and this year’s Ellerslie International Flower Show is no exception.


Waterwise planting, water recycling, intelligent use of water, low-energy gardens and restoring soil nutrients are all key international garden trends and many of these concepts will be seen in two exhibition gardens at Ellerslie 2009 where there is a focus on sustainability.

Droughts and floods are the two weather extremes gardeners’ face with greater regularity today as a result of global warming.  Creating a rain garden, using your property’s water catchment and retaining storm water on-site for garden irrigation are all ways to manage the extremes as visitors will find at the One Earth Matters exhibition garden.


The Christchurch-based landscape architectural company was founded by Carl Pickens based on a design philosophy of integrating contemporary landscape design with organic growing and permaculture.

He says his Ellerslie garden will showcase such ideas as how to reduce the amount of water needed by planting native plants which need little moisture; using mulch to help the soil hold the water and stop it drying out; as well as the importance of adding compost to the soil, using kitchen and garden waste to return important nutrients back to the soil.

The garden will also use sustainably grown and certified timbers, native no-mow lawn and productive vegetables and fruit planting to reduce food miles.

A community garden is the theme of the Project Lyttelton and Soil and Health Canterbury’s Ellerslie exhibition garden.

It will highlight the advantages of using locally sourced and recycled materials and organic gardening to create a sustainable community.  The garden will promote living in harmony with nature and the seasons; illustrate the cycle of healthy soil, healthy plants and healthy people; celebrate the planting, harvesting and feasting of good organic food; promote recycling and composting; and use heritage seed to celebrate historic Lyttelton.

Designed by Liz Briggs, the Dig This garden is created around a series of terraces, representing the man-made terraces found in Lyttelton carved into the volcanic rock by early settlers.

As for the future of sustainability, overseas trends have started to see the demise of the patio heater and predictions are that just being green won’t be good enough in the future as responsible sourcing of products are counted as part of the human cost of building gardens.

Ellerslie International Flower Show Exhibition Manager Kate Hillier says these cutting edge trends are expected to filter more into future garden design at Ellerslie.

The Ellerslie International Flower Show is New Zealand’s premier week-long Garden Party in Christchurch’s North Hagley Park from 11 to 15 March. The Show celebrates Christchurch’s Garden City heritage and the best of national and international garden design. The 2009 Show will feature almost 80 horticultural exhibits, including 28 exhibition gardens, with loads of fresh and exciting ideas for every garden. Check out the website for further information

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