on May 24, 2008
After my grandparents' garden in England, Christchurch's Botanic Gardens have to be my favorite in the world. Nowhere else have I ever seen such a wonderland of colour, and even my vivid memories paled in comparison to the gardens I found on the cool, cloudy morning that I spent in Christchurch. The fact that the day was on the ugly side only served to highlight how lucky I was to be in the midst of such manicured beauty (although it did mean that my photos weren't quite as nice as they could have been!).I thought that my friends and I had combed the gardens pretty well on our previous visit, but I was continually surprised by what we had managed to overlook on that trip. Some of my favorite sections are highlighted below (and listed how they appear at the height of summer--the face of the gardens changes constantly, so you might not find exactly what I have described when you visit).*The Peacock Fountain: Despite its name, this fountain is not made of peacocks, but rather, cast iron with various plants, herons, and dolphins around the base of each of its bowls. It is called the Peacock Fountain after John Peacock, an early resident of Christchurch, and it stands near the main entrance to the gardens at the end of Worcester St.*The Herbaceous Border: Although not the official name, this section of the gardens could very well be called the "avenue of flowers." You walk along the gravel pathway with a glimpse of the Avon River to your left and a plethora of both foreign and indigineous flowers to your right. I spent way too much time here taking pictures of each new flower I ran across.*The Rose Garden: One of the centrepieces of the gardens. There are multiple beds of pretty much every type of rose ever seen, and they were all in full bloom!*The Water Gardens: This has to be one of my favorite sections. Essentially, the gardens are just a very large pond surrounded in plant life, lillies, and other flowers...but the stone bridge crossing the far end of the pond is just so picturesque that I couldn't help walking around trying to see it from every possible angle.*The Rock Gardens: This garden is very close to the aforementioned water gardens, and reminded me very much of the stunning rock gardens at Chatsworth (although the rocks weren't quite as big!).*The Dahlia Garden: I don't recall seeing these before, and my pictures tell the same story...yet it's hard to understand how I missed them! A massive bed of dahlias encircles the rose garden; this bed is just as colorful and varied as the roses it surrounds.*Cunningham House: This conservatory is just behind the rose gardens and hosts different flower displays depending on the season. When I was there, it was chock-full of begonias (and families with screaming little children trying to pluck the begonias).Despite the numbers of locals and tourists alike that stroll along the various pathways, the gardens normally has a very tranquil feel about it. Lie down underneath a giant oak tree and you could very well be out in the country rather than in the centre of the largest city on the South Island. This was the prevailing mood in the early morning when I arrived; however, by about 11am, this drastically changed. Suddenly, even in the back corners of the gardens, the sounds of cheering crowds and microphone-enhanced yelling could be heard, and I realized that the World Buskers Festival had started for the day. Keen to see the "world's best buskers" that had been invited from all over the world to perform, I made my way back to the Peacock Fountain. The performance I saw there and the numerous other ones that I took in before departing that afternoon have been reviewed in my "World Buskers Festival" entry.The Botanic Gardens is located just to the west of Rolleston Avenue, and the main entrance is located at Worcester St.
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