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A council staff report is recommending that the Enchanted Garden Exhibition be turned down in favour of the Horticultural Society as long-term tenant of the Tea Kiosk in the Botanic Gardens.
Jenny Gillies and her team are disappointed by the report which the acclaimed designer says doesn’t accurately communicate what the Enchanted Garden is or does for the gardens, the city and the wider community.
“To read in the report that the Enchanted Garden Exhibition offers “a static exhibition” which “is potentially more aligned with art / fashion than horticulture or botany” makes my heart break. Not only does our team get out and about in the gardens wearing the costumes, I work incredibly hard to ensure the plants, flowers, vegetables and fruit are correct botanically, and that is what people come to see – gardeners, people who love plants among them,” says Gillies.
“The Enchanted Garden display changes with the seasons, reflecting what is actually in the gardens, and we promote the botanic gardens at horticultural and botanical festivals all over New Zealand and the world so we are at a loss to understand the rationale in the report.”
On the agenda for the Central Linwood Heathcote Community Board on Monday 29th October, where she has requested speaking rights, Gillies says she will emphasise to the elected members the appropriateness and value of having both the Horticultural Society and The Enchanted Garden in the Botanic Gardens, something she has maintained from the outset should be the plan.
“We both offer a great deal to the people of Christchurch and visitors to our city, and there is space in the gardens for us both and no-one has explained why this has not been seriously considered,” she says.
The former information centre is earmarked for development but not for some time and is currently used by the Friends of the Botanic Gardens, a group Jenny Gillies says has much in common with the Horticultural Society.
“In fact the report talks about the group using the tea kiosk too. Why couldn’t they all be in the same building and The Enchanted Garden could stay where it is? It all seems a bit odd to me,” she says.
Gillies says she and the team have been very limited with their options to promote the Enchanted Garden, and exploring opportunities such as joint ventures and sponsorship, because of the temporary nature of the lease.
“We know a more permanent arrangement would really give us wings, and we are disappointed that in this report, council staff haven’t seen the opportunity we provide for community groups, city residents and international visitors alike,” she says.
Jenny Gillies and supporters will be attending the meeting next Monday to ask the community board to reconsider the staff recommendation and vote in favour of option two which would see the lease for the Tea Kiosk, being offered to The Enchanted Garden.