When things grow wild – post-earthquake natural succession in Christchurch gardens

By Grant Jacobs 20/12/2012

While I madly tackle the pre-Christmas to-do list (sigh) I’d like to give a shout-out to a blog post by Glenn Stewart,  Professor of Urban Ecology, Lincoln University (near Christchurch), about what is happening to gardens in ‘abandoned’ Christchurch homes.

As you might expect, they’re growing wild, with a natural succession taking place that is being recorded.

Map from Avon-Otakaro network petition website

The areas in green are ‘red zone’ land—identified as unable to be rebuilt upon (in the short-term)—adjacent to the Avon river, east of the city centre. The straight-ish stretch of water running north-south is known as Kerr‘s Reach and the base of competitive rowing in Christchurch. The blue to the right is the Pacific Ocean (New Brighton coastline).

It’s a little like when I leave the weeding a bit long in my own place…

In my case I get seedlings of maples and a while raft of New Zealand natives along with the invasive weedy nuisances. Natives that regularly self-sow in my little corner of New Zealand include kowhai (lots and lots of them… surprisingly hard to pull out these little guys out, too), flax, cabbage tree, fern, Coprosma, five-finger, toetoe and all sorts of other things.*

What I get for living near a botanical gardens and have birds frequent the place. I find myself guiltily ripping out native plants. But being the opportunist or sucker I am (your pick…) I leave the odd one that seems well-placed.**


I do have a very long list of draft posts to tackle. Just not now!

* And some of which I’m not entirely sure what they are. Excuse being slack and using local informal names. My to-do list beckons…

** A nice up-shot is that I haven’t had to buy and plant many. I did buy a Chatham Island Nikau palm that went cheap at the Friends of the Gardens sale. (For the Dunedin Botanical Gardens.)

Christchurch is my hometown and I’ve previously written about the earthquakes.

H/T: @jetjocko

Other articles on Code for life:

When a City Falls – trailer for movie on Christchurch earthquakes

Earthquake at Christchurch

The psychology of the Christchurch earthquakes

Hobbit production videos

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