Things to do  |  6 May 2020

Visitors to the reopened Christchurch Botanic Gardens have a new attraction to enjoy, a one-of-a-kind crevice garden created just before the lockdown began.

Crevice gardens are a type of rock garden that uses slabs of stone set vertically and close together to create an environment for alpine, desert and cliff-dwelling plants.

A rock star of the horticultural world, crevice garden designer Kenton Seth, from the United States, designed and built the new feature in the rock garden area of the Botanic Gardens when he was here in March.

Mr Seth was invited to Christchurch before the COVID-19 lockdown began by the New Zealand Alpine Garden Society (NZAGS). 

Society members helped him build the crevice garden using local Halswell Quarry stone to match what was already there. Plants will be added later when the garden has settled.

Mr Seth says eventually there will be a “really handsome collection of crevice plants that will bloom for every month of the year”.

“They come from anywhere on the planet where there are rocks so it’s an international buffet of plants.”

Crevice gardens have a dramatic look, he says. “They’re like a mini mountain range in a garden. But if they’re built right, they are remarkably low maintenance.

“They don’t have to be huge, monumental things either, just a few rocks pushed together or even a container size can work well. You can use them in place of a retaining wall so they’re not just for botanic gardens, they’re for home gardeners as well.”

NZAGS President Hamish Brown says there is growing interest in crevice gardens internationally and learning from someone with Mr Seth’s expertise was invaluable.

“Kenton is one of the leading designers in North America and he has created about 40 large scale crevice gardens around the world. This is the first of its kind in a New Zealand public garden and gives us an opportunity to plant rare and hard to grow plants that will add a special beauty to the Botanic Gardens.”

Botanic Gardens Director Wolfgang Bopp says the collaboration with NZ Alpine Garden Society was “a delight”. “Unfortunately we had to close for the lockdown shortly after Mr Seth built the new crevice garden, but it’s great that we can welcome everyone back with a world-class drawcard for them to enjoy.

“I think this new area, which is part of a refresh of the whole rock garden, will be a unique highlight.”

  • While the Botanic Gardens are open under Alert Level 3, the car parks and buildings within the Gardens, including toilets, remain closed. We ask that you only visit if you live in the area to limit the number of people, and please maintain a two metre distance from anyone outside of your household.