Will Christchurch Retain National Flower Bed Title at Ellerslie?

(PR.co.nz) Christchurch City is aiming for a hat trick when it competes in the third National Flower Bed Competition at this year’s Ellerslie International Flower Show.

The Garden City won the inaugural National Flower Bed Competition in 2007 at the last Auckland-hosted Ellerslie International Flower Show, and retained the title this year when Christchurch hosted its first Ellerslie International Flower Show.

However, with seven entries in next year’s Zealandia Horticulture National Flower Bed Competition, Jeremy Hawker from the Christchurch Botanic Gardens is expecting the toughest competition yet since the contest was introduced.

He says next year Christchurch’s entry will depict punting on the Avon, an image which is symbolic with the city.

“The punt will be in water and the whole exhibit will be jam-packed with flowers; the exhibit will have lots of colour.”

In 2007, Christchurch won with an elaborate floral bed depicting the region: ornamental lettuce Canterbury Plains, alyssum Southern Alps, petunia rivers and Pacific Ocean and a verbena.

The city followed up this award-winning garden with a floral tribute to the ornate late Victorian Peacock Fountain (pictured above), erected in Christchurch’s Botanic Gardens in 1911.

“Christchurch’s Garden City pride will again be at stake in 2010. The city has won gold at the last two shows and we are planning an equally award-winning exhibit in 2010,” Mr Hawker says.

The National Flower Bed competition has been modelled on the traditional flower bed competition by the Royal Horticultural Society of Britain and demonstrates the increasing importance councils and local authorities place on their surroundings.

This year’s National Flower Bed Competition is sponsored by Zealandia Horticulture, the specialist nation-wide wholesale plant nursery.

Mayor Bob Parker threw down the gauntlet in May and challenged local authorities throughout the country to attempt to wrestle the title from Christchurch.

Gold award-winning Akaroa and the Bays is back in 2010 with an exhibit which celebrates the Peninsula’s landmark Akaroa Lighthouse, while the Ashburton District Council which won bronze in 2009 is back with a garden which depicts Pioneering Agriculture, from tussocks to arable land and beyond.

Others competing in 2010 are:

• Keep New Zealand Beautiful Coromandel with an exhibit which will depict a rolling sea with dolphins and a large pohutukawa.
• Keep New Zealand Beautiful Rotorua will pay homage to the famous pink and white terraces and the town’s mud pools.
• Keep New Zealand Beautiful Kaiapoi will celebrate its yarn manufacturing history with a sweater, ball of wool and knitting needles; and
• Keep New Zealand Beautiful Wellington will create a floral tribute to the capital city’s rugby prowess with the region’s yellow and black colours, the “cake tin” and a cake.

Zealandia Horticultural Managing Director Vince Wylaars says it is exciting for the company to be involved with Ellerslie as there are great synergies between the two organisations.

“For this year’s Show we are growing more than 30,000 bedding plants for the seven gardens, everything from Ageratum, Verbena and Dianthus to Impatiens, Pansies and Cosmos. In addition, Zealandia will be providing plants for other landscaping at Show.

“2010 is the first year of what Zealandia sees will be a long term relationship with Ellerslie.”

• Ellerslie International Flower Show is New Zealand’s premier week-long Garden Party in Christchurch’s North Hagley Park from 10 to 14 March 2010. The Show celebrates Christchurch’s Garden City heritage and the best of national and international garden design. Check out the website for further information www.ellerslieflowershow.co.nz

Media Release 18 February 2010 from Jan McCarthy, Ellerslie International Flower Show Communications Adviser
03 941 6412 or 027 637 7912