Garden of National Significance

There are five Gardens of National Significance in Dunedin, and the Dunedin Chinese Garden has been judged by the New Zealand Gardens Trust to be one of them in February 2011.

Every three years the Trust scores the Garden on a set of criteria which includes garden design, landscape, planting design, maintenance and overall impression. These scores are then tallied up to reveal the level of assessment. In the case of the Garden, it is five stars, a Garden of National Significance. This accolade is a way for garden lovers to recognise the quality, identity and character the Garden holds.

There is real pride in knowing the hard work which gets put into creating and maintaining such a unique place and space is recognised in this way. Gardner Ian Melvin toils away adhering to the principles at the very heart of an authentic Scholar’s Garden. Chinese gardens, as opposed to Western gardens, are focused more on architecture rather than horticulture; about rocks more than plants. Yet each planting has important and symbolic meaning. Plants are arranged adhering to the principle of contrast, for example small and large plants opposing. While conveying a sense of depth, the plants bring together the different elements from around the Garden creating balance.

People visit gardens for many reasons, and one can be to develop an appreciation for different styles and design elements which give the ‘wow’ factor. Here at the Garden it is always a delight to surprise visitors with the unexpected – glimpses through the Garden and beyond.

So next time you visit the Garden, try to focus on sights and sounds which you may not have noticed before!