Trainees create a paradise

A lawn in the Dunedin Botanic Garden. PHOTO: GREGOR RICHARDSON
A lawn in the Dunedin Botanic Garden. PHOTO: GREGOR RICHARDSON
A riddle: What is the most copious type of plant at Dunedin Botanic Garden, the most frequently visited but least noticed? Answer: Grass.

Like a picture without a frame, the botanic garden would be quite a different place without them.

Paths are similarly essential. So are drains, sumps and rubbish bins. The duck pond retains its appeal with the help of daily hosing away of bird faeces.

A crew of four works full time, combining aesthetics and practicality to keep this infrastructure both beautiful and functional.

Three are trainees, with a supervisor, all employed by Malcam Charitable Trust. An additional beauty of their work is that the trainees rotate regularly, providing ongoing opportunities for young people to gain employment and work experience.

They work to a contract with a schedule and specifications. Rubbish is cleared three times a week and daily in the weekends. Paths are renewed at least every five years, usually more often depending on surface type.

Lawns are mown to various standards according to how high-profile they are. The knot garden area, near the main entrance, is kept tight as ornamental turf, using a reel mower. The upper garden’s Friendship Lawn is classified as landscape turf which is allowed to grow slightly longer and can be kept tidy with a ride-on machine that allows for much quicker work.

The art of gardening involves using down-to-earth techniques, often performed quietly in the background, to create a taste of paradise.

Garden Life is produced by Dunedin Botanic Garden. For further information contact Clare Fraser.


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