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What’s Up the Top

This article was first published on 31 Jan 2019.

Divaricates, native collection

Divaricates, native collection

Photo by the Otago Daily Times

Dunedin’s flat lower botanic garden is a much-loved destination.  The duck pond has provided hours of fun for generations and the winter garden glasshouse has been a hit for over a hundred years. But most of the botanic garden is elsewhere.

By the café a bridge across Lindsay Creek invites visitors to the upper botanic garden.  The first thing you’ll meet is the Mediterranean Garden, a formal Italianate garden with a sun trap of a terrace looking towards Flagstaff.  Nearby, the Cedars of Lebanon Grove’s flat lawn is a good place to admire the view before exploring the semi-wilderness of the arboretum.

Up the top, the Rhododendron Dell mixes native bush with exotic plants to create a traditional woodland garden with a New Zealand forest flavour.  Even though rhododendron blooms peak in spring, bark and foliage are like living art all year.

The aviary is beside the upper garden carpark, facing north for maximum sunlight.  Over 400 birds live in the collection and most are exotic.

Next door is the geographic plant collection, a living library of plants from every continent except Antarctica.  Plants are displayed according to region, for example, the North American borders.  Nearly all are species that evolved in nature, rather than cultivars.

The New Zealand native plant collection runs along the hilltop plateau and even has a flat lawn with views.  Striking plant forms and quirky features remind us how lucky we are to live at the bottom of the world in Godzone.