More than 1,200 people in Ashburton District were originally born in the Philippines, according to the 2018 census – so states the sign as you enter the main gates at the East Street entrance to the Ashburton Domain.

Recently, the Filipino community was welcomed by the Ashburton District Council, to put down roots with their own design in the Ashburton Domain. For more than a year, the local Filipino community have worked on a garden that expresses their culture and identity.  The design showcases miniature representations of Bahay Kubo (Nipa Huts) alongside symbols and colours from the Filipino flag.

If you have ever travelled to the Philippines, you’ll know that the climate there is warm all year round – but certain times of the year it is boiling hot and others it is very rainy – very different from our cooler temperatures.  Since most of the plants in the Philippines are tropical, some sub-tropical counterparts have been sourced for the project, with bright florals to represent the colours and vibrancy of Philippine culture.

The garden was officially opened on Saturday 21 November 2020 and is on display until Easter 2021. It’s a very peaceful, lovely garden setting to wander through, read the information pods scattered about, enjoy the colourful flowers and plants and take some time out sit around on one of the benches and take breathe it in. If you’re so inclined, Google a few of the locations marked in the gardens – The Chocolate Hills for one. I was reliably informed by another visitor that this is a famous tourist attraction of Bohol, but take the time to discover it yourself. You won’t be disappointed.

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Judy McAuliffe is a writer, and publisher Essence Mid Canterbury. Her experience in media is extensive and includes approximately 15 years as Creative Director for The Radio Network, writing, and managing the writing of radio advertising, mainly in Invercargill and Greymouth. In the late 1990’s she transferred to Christchurch, moving into an Account Management role with 91ZM. In 2007 she and a business partner set up Essence Mid Canterbury, very quickly adapting her radio-writing skills to print media. Judy became sole owner of Essence Mid Canterbury in June 2014. Judy is a ‘people person’ and has found her niche writing feature stories about the community she lives in and the people who live there. She is also available for freelance writing assignments.