Gardens of beauty in red-zone wreckage

Last updated 05:00 21/01/2014
red zone garden
Daniel Tobin

RED ZONE BEAUTY: Garden judge Brian Briggs says gardens overlooking the red zone can flourish, like this one on Avonside Drive

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The East

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While the red zone crumbles and falls into disrepair, two houses looking over it have won the praises of Christchurch gardening judge Brian Briggs.

On Avonside Drive, numbers 724 and 730 have gorgeous gardens. At 724, yellow flowers frame the entrance, and at 730, marigolds line the footpath.

Brian Briggs, a Christchurch Beautifying Association judge and former president, has been judging gardens and street appeal for almost 20 years.

His own garden in Spreydon has picked up more than 130 awards over the last 35 years.

Every year, the Christchurch Streets and Gardens Awards panel drive down every street in Christchurch.

This year, the judging panel ventured into the red zone to ensure those little pockets of community pride didn't miss out.

"We shouldn't have driven around there really, but we did," Briggs said. "We used to get the most award winners in that area before the earthquake.

"Now, it's worse than third world."

Previous Cul de Sac Street Award winner, Monkton Place, is now a haphazard jumble of broken homes and overgrown weeds.

"That struck us as quite sad," Briggs said. "It's completely wrecked."

It was lucky the panel did choose to drive through the red zone. Overlooking the Avon River, homes in the green zone are still thriving despite the chaos on neighbouring streets.

The judging panel has struggled this year in areas where large swathes of homes have been abandoned or wiped out.

The association usually gives out about 120 certificates for street appeal in the Hagley-Ferrymead ward, but with all the disrepair, this year it awarded only 45.

"There's so much work out there that could be done by unskilled people," Briggs said.

"We know Christchurch won't look good for years, but at the very least we could just get the rubbish tidied up.

"It would make a huge difference."

Briggs would like to see the red zone and inner city tidied up by the unemployed, which would make a difference to the mood of Cantabrians living in those areas.

Judging closed yesterday and the winners in the Christchurch Streets and Gardens Awards will be announced in early February.

The awards are sponsored by Christchurch City Council and promote community pride and care of street frontages.

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