Gar­dens an oa­sis of calm for city dwellers

Reporter Sarah Cod­ding­ton writes about her first trip to the Auck­land Botanic Gar­dens. She also took the pho­tos.

Central Leader - - NEWS -

An ur­ban sanc­tu­ary is wait­ing to be dis­cov­ered just down the south­ern mo­tor­way.

As soon as I drive in the main en­trance through vinecov­ered pil­lars I know I’ve ar­rived some­where spe­cial.

It’s my first trip to the Auck­land Botanic Gar­dens. And I’m here at the best time of year. The roses are in full bloom and large-scale sculp­tures are dot­ted around the ex­ten­sive grounds.

But the high­light is the low-ly­ing lake in the mid­dle of the gar­dens. Duck­lings weave their way around flow­ers scat­tered across the wa­ter.

I’m not a gar­dener – I can’t tell the dif­fer­ence be­tween a dahlia and a daisy. I once tried to grow pan­sies in a pot and they died within weeks. It seems plants need wa­ter.

But that doesn’t mean I can’t ap­pre­ci­ate the beauty the botanic gar­dens has to of­fer city dwellers.

As soon as I walk through the en­trance of the visi­tors cen­tre, past the nikau palms, I sud­denly feel at ease. Things are calmer here.

Cou­ples can be spot­ted tak­ing in the scenery on the seats around the lake or hav­ing a pic­nic. It’s a place for old and young alike. Mums wan­der around with bubs in prams, and chil­dren roam around the sculp­tures or Pot­ter Chil­dren’s Gar­den.

Many older peo­ple take weekly walks in the ev­er­chang­ing scenery and you can bring the dog.

What makes it spe­cial is the sense of com­mu­nity. The work­ers and vol­un­teers wave and smile as I pass.

Mag­no­lias, an edi­ble gar­den patch, herbs – my gaze is con­tin­u­ously cap­tured by the gar­den’s ar­ray of colour. Be­hind the beauty is a care­fully mapped-out plan of plant species. Each plant is given a birth cer­tifi­cate and work­ers keep records to help Auck­land gar­den­ers learn what’s best to grow.

It’s like a zoo for plants where peo­ple work tire­lessly to pro­tect and grow plant species for oth­ers to en­joy.

So if you haven’t yet taken a trip to the gar­dens, best head on to the mo­tor­way.

Sum­mer blush: Beau­ti­ful blooms come out for visi­tors in the hol­i­day sea­son. Dou­ble fun: Left, twin sis­ters Ad­di­son and Grace Baker, 2, en­joy smelling the flow­ers. Keep swim­ming: Be­low, a mother duck and her duck­lings make their way to the bank of the pond.

Lit­tle helper: Left, an ant sculp­ture over­looks the vast land­scape at the Auck­land Botanic Gar­dens.

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