Sustainability without compromising beauty

A sustainable garden does not have to compromise on beauty as Soil and Health Canterbury and The Good Gardeners’ Association Christchurch will demonstrate at this year’s Ellerslie International Flower Show.

Sustainability with Style will be a garden where organically grown fruit and vegetables will nestle among herbs and flowers, all thriving in healthy soil enriched with compost and mulch.

Soil and Health Canterbury partnered at last year’s Ellerslie International Flower Show with Project Lyttelton winning bronze for their Dig This exhibit, a community garden designed on sustainable principles.

This year the Association wanted to design a completely different garden using the same sustainability principles but in a more elegant, traditional home garden setting, says Soil and Health New Zealand Chairman Dr Matt Morris.

“We wanted a sustainable garden which was also very beautiful.”

Designed by Phil and Linda Ducker of The Good Gardeners’ Association, who were part of the gold medal winning Canterbury Horticultural Society exhibit last year, Sustainability with Style will have “beautiful architectural features, including a traditional church gate entrance, brick fencing and a magnificent summerhouse”.

“The structures will be built using as much recycled materials as possible and the garden will be a sanctuary for the gardener to contemplate the bountiful fruits of his labour.”

Dr Morris says the design will maximise the use of space for food production, juxtaposing heritage fruit and vegetable plants with companion flowering plants.

“Many heritage plants will be used in the garden. It is important we preserve their use to ensure they are not lost forever. Every plant has an intrinsic value to our gardening culture; many heritage varieties offer a higher nutrient value.”

He says Soil and Health has a long history, being the oldest organisation in the world promoting organic composting. “We just love compost and having it at Ellerslie.

“I think compost heaps are a thing of beauty and so magical in the way they transform waste into a healthy product to enrich the soil.”

The Good Gardeners’ Association has been established in Christchurch for more than 30 years, promoting organic, no-dig gardening.

Dr Morris says Ellerslie is a great place for Soil and Health and The Good Gardeners’ Association to get their messages out to a wide audience which would not normally be exposed to its ideas. “Our gardening principles are relevant for all gardens; we are about considering the garden as an eco-system that needs nourishing and enriching.”

He says the organisation’s 2009 Ellerslie exhibit was overwhelmingly received by visitors to the Show.

“Gardens are part of the total sustainability picture for the city and we see our relationship with Ellerslie as having some duration.

“Each year, Soil and Health wants to be part of the Ellerslie experience, partnering with different organisations to present our messages in different ways.”

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