We had had many comments about whether Christchurch will always be known as such – in my view we will always be the Garden City, but that doesn't mean that's all we are. The reference to a garden means much more to a generation of children coming through enviro-schools today than it did when I received a packet of seeds to plant flowers in our garden at home. I grew nasturtiums. I think I liked the name and they were easy to grow.
The community garden movement is alive and well in Christchurch, but we haven't yet seen the explosion of community activity that can be generated by granting communities access to shared public space and seeing what they can do in partnership with the City.
And with large tracts of land 'red-zoned' by the government, we may be entitled to think of ourselves as a city in a garden as well as a garden city.
So the garden city will always be there and the festivals that celebrate this will live on. I guess for me the strongest hope as we stand in Cathedral Square is that one day we will see a 23-metre floral carpet leading us into a restored ChristChurch Cathedral. That for me would be a dream come true.
For those who have volunteered their time to the work of the Trust over those years, you can be proud of your achievements.
The City thanks you for your devotion to this wonderful festival that brings joy into our lives as residents and creates an unforgettable memory for our visitors.
Twenty-five years ago, the founding members of the Trust had the aim of encouraging awareness among Christchurch people of the horticultural resources of our city. They would care for and maintain the Garden City through floral festivals, garden exhibitions and events.
Well, here we are today with the Trust bringing that mission statement to life with what's called "An Extravaganza in Cathedral Square". And there's so much more – floral displays in New Regent Street, the Re:START Mall, Arts Centre Market Square and in the ChristChurch Transitional Cathedral. There's also a curated 'Enchanted Gardens' art exhibition at the CPIT's Raikaia Centre.
I won't go through the programme – you can see for yourself what is on offer. Having said that I am compelled to mention the Zimmer Frame and Hat Decorating Competition designed to bring out the creative talents of our older residents! I'm told decorated walking sticks and mobility scooters will also be welcomed. As a former Minister for Senior Citizens I say go for it!
The last thing I want to say is to acknowledge the way the Christchurch Garden City Trust has stepped up to help us all to come to terms with our post-quake environment.
Historically the Trust had always taken responsibility for the floral decoration of the city centre in the summer and tourist season. After the earthquakes, the Trust worked with emergent groups like Gap Filler and existing businesses and communities both in the city centre and in places like Sydenham, and New Brighton helping out with troughs, plant materials and even topiary animals.
I want to place on record the City's thanks for this help to heal the emotional impact of what has occurred. Thinking about the emotional impact is important as we near the difficult third anniversary of February 22, which is why we chose the Botanic Gardens for the Civic Commemoration this year. There we will be surrounded by beauty rather than devastation.
But today as we gather to celebrate the opening of the Silver Jubilee of our Garden City Trust Festival of Flowers, we see how we can have it both ways. You have managed to weave beauty throughout our devastated city and we thank you from the bottom of our hearts.