Human Flower Project

Whatever Floats Your Duck

BioHaven island gardens were a hit with spectators and waterfowl alike at Christchurch’s Festival of Flowers.


A duck hunkers down on a “BioHaven”

on the Avon River, Christchurch, N. Z.

Photo: Rodney Love

Wildlife gardening is a bit of an oxymoron. More than a bit. Here we go tearing things up, having boulders “installed.” We’ve hybridized the scent (and flavor?) out of flowers, meanwhile mixing up red sugarwater to seduce a few hummingbirds.

Ducks on the Avon River in Christchurch, New Zealand, suggest we’ve been rather narrow and condescending where wildlife gardening is concerned. Who’s to say that wildlife always prefers wilderness?

Marise Richards sent along these fabulous photographs taken by Rodney Love—of local fowl enjoying the recent Festival of Flowers. Marise forwarded an excerpt from the Festival’s official statement about the glorious island gardens created for the event:

“As part of the Festival of Flowers 20th Anniversary Season, the Christchurch Garden City Trust is bringing back a much loved event: floats on the Avon River. For 2009, the floats will actually be floating ‘BioHaven’ islands, each measuring 2 square metres.”

BioHaven is right! Local ducks decidedly preferred these splendid, unnatural nests to the wild rushes along the riverbank. 

imageFloating gardens, and tasteful ducks, adorned the Avon River in Christchurch during the recent Festival of Flowers

Feb. 20-Mar. 16

Photo: Rodney Love

“BioHaven floating islands are man-made ecosystems that mimic naturally-occurring floating wetlands,” the festival committee goes on to say. “The islands are porous mats made from 100% recycled plastics that can be planted with sod, garden plants or wetland vegetation.”

These island gardens, made by Kauri Park Nurseries in Kaiwaka, Northland, were a hit with webbed-footed festival goers.

Marise generously conveyed some of her own commentary, too. “The islands are really cool,” she wrote. “The only problem was they were a little too popular with ducks.”  For all you wildlife gardeners out there who hope to attract larger birds, Marise volunteers, “I have found out that ducks really like to sleep, eat and poop on impatients, marigolds and salvia. They are not quite as interested in harakeke, parsley and verbena.”

Marise says that the festival staff found themselves in the Avon too, changing the plantings and chasing the ducks off. In the same spirit as Georgia Silvera Seamans’s recent report on the San Francisco Flower Show, Marise jotted down a visitor’s comment:

“While in the river one day I heard an American tourist standing on the bridge say ‘it is so great what they do for their ducks here.’ We also had a lot of interest from eel and water rats.”

The Festival of Flowers, one of the most flamboyant floral celebrations in the world, coincided with the Ellerslie International Flower Show, held in Christchurch, too, for the first time this year.

By all accounts the combined shows were a great success.

Congratulations and many thanks, Marise. You folks in Christchurch sure know how to go with the flow.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 03/29 at 04:26 PM


I attended a BioHaven presentation a few months ago!  I am intrigued with the concept.  Presenters were convincing; provided good data and showed photographs of the settings in which the islands have been - successfully - installed.

Posted by Georgia on 03/30 at 05:08 PM
Commenting is not available in this channel entry.