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New Curator Appointed For Botanic Gardens

New Curator Appointed For Botanic Gardens

Leading New Zealand plant biologist and award-winning landscape architect John Clemens has been appointed as the new curator of Christchurch’s Botanic Gardens.

He takes up the role this Monday (27 July), bringing to the job more than 30 years experience working in the field of horticultural research in Australia and New Zealand.

Christchurch City Council City Environment General Manager Jane Parfitt says the appointment comes after a three-year search to find a new curator.

“Dr Clemens has a unique background in plant research, education and landscape architecture, having lectured at the University of Sydney, been Director of the Nursery Research Centre at Massey University, and recently completing a Master of Landscape Architecture with Distinction at Lincoln University.

“His vision for the Botanic Gardens is to enhance Christchurch’s reputation as New Zealand’s Garden City by ensuring the Gardens are not only world class but also become a leading world institution for botanical and horticultural research and excellence,” she says.

“His priorities will be to foster and nurture strong relationships with tertiary and research institutions and the community to ensure the Botanic Gardens continue to evolve and be a showcase of the city’s horticultural heritage and diversity.”

Dr Clemens, who has lived in Christchurch for the last five years studying, researching and lecturing at Lincoln and Canterbury universities and working as a landscape architect, says he is excited about taking up his new role of stewardship of the Garden City’s most important asset.

His passion for plants was developed as a young child, spending many hours “weeding my mother’s garden and breeding dahlias”, while with his father “jumping the fence and exploring the natural environment”. This has given him an appreciation of both the cultivated and wild environments.

“Botanic gardens have never been so important for our community. World-wide, most botanic gardens were originally planted for medicinal plants and scientific study; however these have evolved today into being important places for conservation and biodiversity.”

He says botanic gardens are special places that preserve, showcase and celebrate the diversity of plant life; places where visitors go to see the botanical heritage of various parts of the world.

“Christchurch’s Botanic Gardens are so new and in the process of change which provides the community with the opportunity to think about the botanical future they want for their Gardens within its cultural and historical context.”

Dr Clemens says botanic gardens are in essence about the people and he is looking forward to working with all the communities of Christchurch’s Botanic Gardens, from the Friends of the Botanic Gardens, horticultural societies and garden clubs to research institutes, the public, and the Gardens own staff.


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