New book

Behind the scenes

So is Peter psychic?


This handsome new book arrived for the library today. Chapter 27 is on New Zealand Gothic and it quotes our own Peter Vangioni who said, back in 2004, and before anybody had even heard of the word liquefaction:

Christchurch is often referred to as the garden city, the most English of towns in New Zealand. A picturesque city in appearance on the surface, but scratch away at the soil of most of the city's gardens and you will discover beneath the roses and daffodils a dull and dank layer of blue-grey clay. A stark reminder that the majority of Christchurch is built on what was once a large area of swampland.

This underlying layer can be a gardener's curse, having poor aeration and drainage qualities. It is excellent at retaining water and gives many suburbs in the city a damp, swampy feel in winter. If you dig down deep enough, the clay becomes thick and heavy with a pungent earthy odour hinting at the dark, subterranean environment it occupies. In the hand, its texture and coldness seem a little sinister, a cemetery of ancient forests. A good gardener knows not to disturb what lies below.