THE VITAL GREEN
The Vital Green was completed over 2017-2018. We planted a diverse and non segregated range of natives, herbs, insect food and human food. The name is a revival of ‘The Village Green’ a special and sacred space lost which is being lost in our modern times. Once people met, socialised and rested in these public spaces, without the need to spend money. I wished to reactive this notion but with the urgency and vitality this world needs. To ride out the coming climate calamity, we need to plants an abundance of plants - not just for fashion or ease of care - but to survive and to thrive.
• 156 ARMAGH STREET •
The above photos show the site before we got stuck in. I had a great desire to create innovative and regenerative gardening installations - which bridged the gap between this austere and relatively uninspiring landscaping and the deeply important notion of caring for our land and lives through planting a diverse and useful range of plants.
I put through a proposal to completely transform the astro turf, surrounding gardens and furniture. This went through without a hitch initially yet we meet many a road block with the neighbouring properties who wished to keep the space austere and formal. Frustration after frustration was tackled and the project only became a glimmer of what it could have been.
There was a major lack of communication between myself and the bureaucrats and people of the older generations who questioned my ideas but never once hosted a conversation with me, despite numerous requests for meetings.
In spite of this, we made the best of a bad situation and planted the garden in an abundant and inspiring way. It remains today and gives joy to many people passing through the space.
LEFT: The small range of organic matter found onsite pre work. You will see a range of natives - which are great - but lets be honest, diversity is better.
BELOW: These were the initial designs that proposed a transformation of the space through the building of furniture that united both plants and people. Something severely lacking in contemporary urban design.
• PLACE • ARMAGH STREET •
8 JANUARY 2018
Due to waiting waiting waiting for permission to begin the major Vital Green garden, we were able to populate 12 planter boxes that the Christchurch City Council commissioned Neil Dawson to make. In these, we transferred the natives that had previously habituated the major gardens and added in some lovely lavender, calendula, alyssum, sorrel, valerian and more yummy plants. To recreate a natural landscape, river rocks surrounded the base of the plants.
1 MARCH 2018
• PROCESS AND PEOPLE •
We embarked on many a mission to fulfil this vision.
4 NOVEMBER 2018 • NEW BRIGHTON COMMUNITY GARDEN PLANT SALE
6 NOVEMBER 2017 • COLLECTING ROCKS FROM NAPE NAPE
5 DECEMBER 2017 • COLLECTING TAGASASTAE
14 DECEMBER 2017 • MULCH DIGGERS
6 JANUARY 2018 • PLANTS FROM THE LYTTELTON MARKET
6 JANUARY 2018 • SOIL SORT
The soil onsite was a thick dense water-logged clay. Within civil plantings, not much attention seems to be given to this vital aspect of garden. The soil is the back bone of a plant and dictates how well it will grow and how it will be able to survive times of struggle - pests, drought, too little sun and the like. With a heavy clay soil like this, many minerals are present but the tiny particles are packed so tight that very little air is present. 50% of soil is actually empty space that can be filled by air and water. Both are vital for the health of the roots and the survival of the plants.
We embarked on a soil healing process where we added:
PEA STRAW: dry carbon matter that ‘digests’ the green nitrogen matter we also added. As this is a legume plant, it also provides nitrogen.
COMPOST: Made from CHCH organic waste collection. Adds microorganisms and nutrients to the plants. Like soil but more potent.
GREEN ORGANIC MATTER:
COFFEE BEAN HUSKS