Giant poppies and a potting shed are just two of the new elements in the Enchanted Garden exhibition reopening in the Botanic Gardens old information centre next week.
Internationally renowned designer, Jenny Gillies, and her team have been working tirelessly to ready the new exhibition space, only steps from the Tea Kiosk where she was located for almost three years. She has vacated the space to accommodate the Canterbury Horticultural Society. Gillies says the move has created some fantastic opportunities for the exhibition.
“The mirrored walls reflect the lake and David McCracken's Diminish and Ascend sculpture, adding to the sensory experience within the exhibition,” she says. “The new “potting shed” is in a separate area and there’s enough room that I can make costumes in situ as well”.
Gillies’ costumes have been featured both nationally and internationally in exhibitions and live performances promoting our beautiful Garden City. Beauty, humour and an abundance of colour are showcased in her works, which change seasonally, as the flora in the gardens does. With 6000 Trip Advisor reviews, regularly noting Enchanted Garden as the “#1 thing to do” in the city, this exhibition is clearly a key Christchurch tourist attraction.
“Our visitor book is bulging with amazing feedback,” says the designer, “and our Facebook page is the same. We are so pleased to be able to stay in the gardens, where people can head to see the “real thing” after visiting us.”
Gillies says people from around the world visit the Enchanted Garden, many of whom have seen her at overseas gardening events. Local school students and retirement village residents also frequently visit, many of whom then visit the Gardens Ilex café for lunch or a coffee.
“We are really excited and look forward to seeing old and new faces in our new location,” she says.
Enchanted Garden will re-open its doors on Thursday the 28th February.
Location: Just over the bridge from the Armagh Street Botanic Gardens carpark, in the former Information Centre, to the left of the Tea Kiosk)
Summer hours: 10-4pm, Monday-Sunday
Tickets: All tickets $5, children under 5 free, family concession $15 (up to two adults, 2 children under 17).
Jenny, who lives in Christchurch, combines her love of gardens and flowers to create truly amazing costumes, often taking three months and up to 70 metres of sumptuous silk and velvet fabrics to complete.
A former microbiologist, Jenny started making wearable art 20 years ago after a sunflower hat she made was spotted at the annual Christchurch Cup and Show Week horse racing events, and she was then commissioned to make more. Jenny has gone on to produce costumes for theatre, film and opera, and has won several awards.
Her work has featured at the Royal Adelaide Show, the World of Wearable Art Awards, and Ellerslie International Flower Show. A selection of her designs is currently on display at the Christchurch Botanical Gardens to mark the reopening of the historic Tea Kiosk following the devastating earthquakes of 2011.
Jenny’s gowns begin with a real flower, which she pulls apart to create patterns for each element and ensure that her creation is botanically correct. She has a collection of around 100 costumes and displays which have been regularly rotating at the Victorian Tea Kiosk in the Botanic Gardens in Christchurch, depending on the season.