Botanic Gardens  |  26 Feb 2020

Do you want to turn a bare backyard into a lush garden but do not know where to start to plant?

Grow Ō Tautahi Christchurch Garden Festival Beginner Gardening Ambassador Julia Atkinson-Dunn can help point you in the right direction next month.

The local gardening enthusiast behind social media site Studio Home will host panel sessions during the three-day festival in the Botanic Gardens, with experts from around Canterbury sharing their knowledge, tips and tricks.

“There’s a lot of information out there but nothing really targeted at that very basic level,” she says.

“The experts who have agreed to take part in our sessions are some of my gardening heroes and I’ll be just as keen as anyone to hear what they have to say.”

Ms Atkinson-Dunn is also looking forward to sharing her own new-to-gardening experiences.

“As soon as I started getting my flowers growing, I was completely obsessed,” she says. “I remember gardening with a head torch one night because I just wanted to be out there.”

She believes that Grow Ō Tautahi, which has been supported by the Christchurch City Councils Innovation and Sustainability Fund, will offer a “new and interesting take on horticulture and gardening” this March.

“It will be a springboard for stirring up ideas and I think that people with no horticultural or gardening experience will come away with something great,” she says.

The free festival focuses on the Garden City, with a creative and environmentally aware approach that draws on concepts from the local community, schools, garden designers, scientists, food gatherers and chefs.

Chef and author Jax Hamilton will oversee the cooking demonstrations with guest chefs, using freshly harvested food from city gardens.

“You really don’t need a lot of space to grow a few herbs and ingredients that can put a ‘ping’ on your plate,” she says.

“I want to share my food philosophy of ‘straight from your garden to your table’.”

Multi-award-winning garden designer Dan Rutherford and AgResearch Research director Dr Trevor Stuthridge will also share their knowledge during the festival.

Dr Stuthridge will dish out “cool science”, leading the Science of Food Hub.

“It is a great chance to make science real by engaging audiences in environmental and sustainability issues that really mean something to their lives,” he says.

“We’re all becoming more aware that what we consume has a direct impact on both our health and our environment.”

Grow Ō Tautahi Christchurch Garden Festival will be on from 20 to 22 March in the Botanic Gardens. It aims to connect communities by sharing knowledge and exploring cultural associations through design, landscape, plants and food.