Discovery 1 children head back to CBD

GREEN FINGERS: Discovery 1 students with their trophy-winning garden, Worlds Away.
GREEN FINGERS: Discovery 1 students with their trophy-winning garden, Worlds Away.

Eight months of work and planning is rewarded as Discovery 1 children head back into the Square.

Three years ago today the pupils of inner-city school Discovery 1 sought shelter in Cathedral Square from the earthquake that devastated Christchurch.

Last week, some for the first time, they returned with a garden designed and built by themselves over the last eight months for the Festival of Flowers.

School spokeswoman Emma Woods says being in the Square to build the garden was especially poignant for some of the children and their families, as it was the first time they had been back since being evacuated there on the day of the February earthquake.

Emma says the pupils' hard work and inspiration has not gone unnoticed .

"At last week's opening of the festival they not only received fantastic feedback from the public but also a trophy," she says.

"Being awarded the Christchurch Garden City trophy for contribution to the city was the icing on the cake for these young designers who, after months of preparation, spent three long days in Cathedral Square putting the garden together."

The school, which has just merged with Unlimited Paenga Tawhiti, has had several temporary sites since the February earthquakes but will return to the city centre within the next few years, she says.

Before the earthquakes, Discovery 1 used the city as an extension of its classrooms and Cathedral Square was considered the playground.

Ms Wood says when the student design team saw that the site they would be using for their garden had a view to their old school building, they decided to incorporate that aspect into their design, along with a fig tree rescued from the rooftop garden of their old school building.

One of the designers, Harriet Matthews, says before the earthquakes she spent every school day in the Square.

"Spending so much time in the Square putting it [my garden design] together made me feel like I was at home again."

Harriet titled the garden Worlds Away because she felt they had created "a beautiful world away from the stress of the earthquakes and their aftermath".

The children worked together to come up with the design and parents supported them building it. The expertise of groups such as the Christchurch Bonsai Club, Halswell pottery studio and Oderings nursery was also used.

Sustainability was a main focus, Emma says, and the children did not want to create waste. They recycled or used natural materials, such as the manuka they cut for archways.

The garden, which contains a waterfall, fairy village, mosaic mirrors, monarch butterflies and thousands of plants in vertical garden beds, is constructed with reused plastic and wooden pallets, real estate signs and packing timber.

The garden will be open during the festival which runs until March 2.

Chalice ringed

Meanwhile, the Garden City Trust, which runs the Festival of Flowers is hoping to keep the colourful 15-metre display garden around the base of the Chalice in Cathedral Square permanently. Festival organiser Lisa Mills said financial support would be needed to replant the flowers at the end of this season.

The trust said Chalice designer Neil Dawson was open to the idea of extending the life of the garden, though not permanently.

The Press