Parks and playgrounds  |  26 Jan 2023

An unusual crevice garden created just before the 2020 lockdown is proving a hit with local, out of town and international visitors to the Christchurch Botanic Gardens.

The garden is made of Halswell Quarry stone slabs set vertically and close together, the unusual topography creating microclimates where alpine, desert and cliff-dwelling plants can live in harmony.

Renowned American crevice garden designer Kenton Seth designed and built the new feature in the rock garden area of the Botanic Gardens in March 2020 and it is now almost complete. It is the only crevice garden in a public garden in New Zealand.

Mr Seth returns to the city this week and will lead a public workshop at the crevice garden on Friday 27 January, 1-4pm. Bookings are essential and can be made here.

Botanic Gardens Maintenance Officer Grant Matheson (pictured above) has been involved in selecting all of the plants for the crevice garden.

Plants have come from in-house propogation and reputable nurseries as well as gifted by collectors from the New Zealand Alpine Garden Society. "All of the plants we have chosen are from a known reliable source and true to type," says Mr Matheson.

“The rock and sand mimics what you would find in the wild; we trick the plants into thinking they’re in a natural environment."

The special topography means they can grow plants that might otherwise need to be in a shade house or green house.

"We have sun and shade plants depending on where the rock sits. There’s a lot of visual beauty in the way the rocks are placed, they do look like a mountain range in miniature.

“A lot of what we grow are cushioning plants and we’re going for a high population of plants grown closer together compared to the rock garden. The resulting visual effect gives you real bang for your buck.”

Mr Matheson says it is “humbling” to hear from international visitors that the crevice and rock gardens are footing it with the best municipal gardens on offer globally.

Friday’s on-site workshop with Kenton Seth costs $40 and is presented by the Friends of the Christchurch Botanic Gardens. It will cover how crevice gardens are developed, how they can offer a unique feature in your garden, building a crevice garden, plants and planting techniques. Bookings can be made here.