Urban Living Wall – Christchurch

CINJAT Living Wall Panorama IMG_9733

Urban Living Wall, in central Christchurch

Post earthquakes, central Christchurch is slowly being rebuilt. Amongst the demolitions, building sites, cranes, road works, gravel sections and shipping containers, some very creative projects are underway.

Christchurch's Urban Living Wall

Christchurch’s Urban Living Wall

One of these is a wall of living plants, native to Canterbury, at the corner of Cashel and High Streets. The planting has changed (yet another) ordinary wire fence into a pleasant space – worth a visit in its own right.

Ferns and small herbaceous plants on the living wall

Ferns and small herbaceous plants on the urban living wall

The original plant list was chosen to include species that  naturally grow on rocky outcrops on Banks Peninsula, an area with some unique and hardy species. The final plantings incorporate a somewhat wider range of native plants that grow in Canterbury.

Pimelea sp. flowering

Riceflowers (Pimelea sp.) flowering on the wall

The containers that hold the plants onto the wire fence were 3D-printed by FabLab – with some help, mainly from schools. These are made of PLA plastic, which is corn-based and ultimately biodegradable.

Panel with information about 3D printing.

Panel with information about 3D printing.

There are also felt containers, made from a single piece of recycled wool carpet. Additional texture is added by panels of wood and ceramics. The project is open source – designs are available here.

Hard fern (Blechnum sp.) in a felt planter bag

Hard fern (Blechnum sp.) in a felt planter bag

The wall is next to a native garden of ground cover plants, rocks, shrubs, flax and tree ferns. There are also planter boxes with native species, and some seats.

Native garden, also at the corner of Cashel and High Streets, central Christchurch

Native garden, also at the corner of Cashel and High Streets, central Christchurch

The urban living wall was built, and is maintained, by the Department of Conservation and FabLab. Several other organisations and individuals are also involved – for more detail check out the wall’s web site, here.

Community involvement is encouraged

Community involvement is encouraged

Detail of the living wall

Detail of the living wall

Mosaic of plants

Mosaic of plants

There is a project on NatureWatch where anyone can record what they see at this site. It would be great to add animals to the list of observations. One aim of the urban living wall is to provide habitat for wildlife in the city – so if you manage to visit the site, see what you can find!

Bexley Wetland

Bexley Wetland, at the mouth of the Avon River (just before it joins into the Avon-Heathcote Estuary) is almost unrecognisable after the 2011 earthquakes. Liquefaction was substantial in this area and many homes adjacent to the wetland were destroyed.

The wetland used to support a mixture of salt and fresh water wetland vegetation, due to the combination of river water, freshwater springs, and tidal flow via the estuary. There were some especially nice salt meadow areas, but the site looks very different now.

Bexley Wetland, at the mouth of the Avon River

Bexley Wetland, at the mouth of the Avon River

Nevertheless, significant species remain:

Apium prostratum

Shore celery (Apium prostratum)

Lep sim

Oioi (Apodasmia similis)

Mimulus repens

NZ musk (Thyridia repens)

Alpine Plants – Foweraker House

Foweraker House is now open again (in the Christchurch Botanic Gardens), following closure after the earthquakes here. The collection includes a mixture of native and exotic alpine species, many of which are just starting to flower.

Celmisia spectabilis (Matua-tikumu)

Celmisia spectabilis (Matua-tikumu)

Helichrysum intermedium, Celmisia longifolia, Celmisia spectabilis

Helichrysum intermedium, Celmisia longifolia, Celmisia spectabilis

Freesia sp. and Trillium sp.

Freesia sp. and Trillium sp.

Riverbank restoration

Post-quakes there is still plenty of demolition underway in Christchurch.

Meanwhile, the plants are making the most of any and all opportunities.

And the central city is also undergoing a major restoration of the banks along the Avon River (Te Papa Ōtākaro).

Demolition underway

Demolition underway in the Hereford/Tuam St area

Plants using any and all available space

Plants using any and all available space

Planting along the riverbank at Victoria Square/Law Courts area.

Planting along the riverbank in the Victoria Square/Law Courts area.

Natural Environment Recovery Programme

Post-earthquakes, a natural environment recovery plan has been developed by Environment Canterbury (and others). This is part of the Recovery Strategy for greater Christchurch. Biodiversity is one of the aspects considered.

There is introductory and summary material here, or go straight to the main report here.

Plants, making the most of opportunities, including cuts in asphalt

Plants, making the most of opportunities, including cuts in asphalt