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A stroll though the park - Timaru Public Gardens

The main entrance is on Queen Street, Hope Archway, towards King Street and there is a one way drive through the gardens that comes out on Domain Ave otherwise it is a lovely 30 minute walk around the gardens. There are fine specimens of trees, a greenhouse, two duck ponds [built 1902] and a Robert Burns statue. The gardens, a living plant museum, 19 hectares with mature trees, the Anderson Rose Garden, named after Walter Anderson, a former curator of reserves, with a fountain, a herb garden with a sundial, The Shakespeare Trail, an historic walk, the large Graeme Paterson Conservatory and Fernery, open from 8 am to dusk, an aviary [built 1964], slopes, spaces, plantings and peace is located between the hospital and the cemetery. A maple collection is on the south slope behind the hospital. The Eucalyptus grove is on the far side. The Education Centre, the hexagonal kiosk, open Wednesday and Sunday 2pm - 4pm, near the 1912 band rotunda built to commemorate the coronation of George V. has oaks, elms and crabapples. The drinking fountain, originally erected outside the Post Office in 1887 on the occasion of Queen Victoria's Jubilee is at the gardens near the far entrance. There is a New Zealand native plant garden between the drive and Domain Ave near the Eucalyptus stand. Trees and plants are labelled. Mr Simmonds was the park caretaker in 1881. Mr George Cross caretaker in the 1900s. Mr D.N. Harper was curator of the begonia house at the Timaru Park in 1917. pdf  youtube. In 2916 the former Park Bowling Club in the Botanic Gardens was transformed by community groups and $500,000 into a venue called Park Centre which offers daycare programmes Monday -Saturday, has lounge and kitchen. The bowling club closed in 2014.

Visit the gardens, war memorial and walkway while in the area.
M = War Memorial  H =hospital 

In 2014 the Timaru Botanic Gardens were recognised as gardens of national significance by the New Zealand Gardens Trust.

From waste land to a garden of national significance: Timaru Botanic Gardens 1864-2014 written by Keith Bartholomew. The book, covers 150 years of development of the gardens was published by the Timaru District Council in Nov. 2015 and will be for sale from the South Canterbury Museum. 40 pages long including the semi stiff cover. It includes nearly 50 photographs a fifth of which are monochrome from the early 1900s the rest modern in full colour. The text is a chronological account of the development and significant events over the 150 years of the Gardens existence plus an appendix giving personal details and qualifications of the various Curators. The retail price to purchase is NZ$15. It took about 120 hours to research the Council records and newspaper files and probably a similar amount for additional research and typing. This has taken place over a period of nearly two years.   

    TH review 28 Nov. 2015. Friends of the Gardens secretary Ray Bennett had first suggested the book. Drawing from official records, newspaper reports and photographs from the South Canterbury Museum's archives Keith was able to trace the development of the gardens. Timaru District Council parks and recreation manager Bill Steans said the book "reinforces the heritage that we've got". The gardens competed for space with Timaru's hospital at times. It took a referendum in 1945 to end one debate about land being transferred for a nurses' home and a compromise deal had ultimately been reached after controversy over the use of a clearing in the gardens as a helicopter helipad. Helicopters they were first given authority to land in the Gardens in 1973 after long discussions at Council and with the previous councils that a permanent landing pad could not be installed and that use was allowed for emergencies only. In 2016 the Westpac Rescue Helicopter attended over 900 emergencies with 1010 missions in South Canterbury with an average cost of $8625 per mission.

"Whites Aviation Collection, Alexander Turnbull Library". WA-70627-F
Timaru Botanic Gardens, 27 Oct 1972, Whites Aviation Collection, Alexander Turnbull Library. The ponds were created in 1902.

Timaru Herald | Tuesday, 08 July 2008
There was the begonia house, the fernery, propagating glasshouses, the cactus house and the Tea Kiosk. The nursery yard had a large open ground area where various shrubs and trees were grown to a reasonable size for planting in public places. In the nursery yard and buildings the men made wooden plant boxes, washed pots, sharpened and serviced tools and made up soil mixes. The gardens department maintained quite a large collection of trees and shrubs, hydrangeas and cyclamen in pots, half barrels and boxes. These were used frequently for functions in the Theatre Royal, Bay Hall and council chambers as well as other venues. 

The Gloucester Gates, Queen St. entrance, with a golden pine tree to the left.

Part of the Gloucester Gates and the golden pine.
These gates were opened by His Royal Highness, the Duke of Gloucester on 10 January 1935. T. W. Satterthwaite, mayor

Timaru Herald, 21 December 1887, Page 3
A STROLL THROUGH THE PARK. (by our special reporter.) Embodied from time to time in reports of meetings of the doings of the Councillors of Timaru sitting as the Timaru Domain and Park Board, have appeared items of news setting forth at more or less length, the improvements which have been carried out in the domain. But recognising at once that our readers by this piecemeal way of hearing things, would have at the best a very disjointed and inadequate idea of the work done, our special was told of for a stroll over the domain, and one fine afternoon last week found him enjoying it in company with the park ranger (Mr Semmens). The weather was delightful; in fact the finest and most genial Timaru had been graced with since gloomy winter folded his mantle about him and went south. Entering the domain by the handsome gates from the Main South Road, the beauty of the flower beds immediately in front of the ranger's cottage is most pleasing, and lovers of flowers could linger here for hours admiring the bloom of even the humblest flower. Left-wheeling, the main avenue— one mass of colour on each side — is entered on, and here the improvement of filling in the eastern end is at once fully appreciated. The clay and soil used in raising was get from the hospital grounds when they were excavated. The filling in runs from 7 feet deep to nothing, and covers an area of about 7 chains in length. It has brought the avenue to a propper grade. The grass sown along the sides of the avenue is coming on well, and the lovely Charles Le Fevre roses (one of the oldest varieties), the dark centred green ixias, the beds of carnations and other choice flowers, make the inside edge of the avenue one blaze of beauty from end to end. By this time the northern entrance is reached, and here a double gate is to be hung, which at once gives command of the new carriage drive from that quarter. But before going along the drive our special was informed that the large vacant piece of ground to the right is to be divided, so that cricket, lawn tennis, archery, and croquet grounds can be formed. The first-named will cover an area 100 feet wide by 500 feet long, and the other grounds in in proportion. At the 500 feet mark and in line with the third Marcrocarpa from the eastern drive, is to be placed the band rotunda — a position at once commanding and convenient. This drive is cut between the former belt of trees, and intersects the terrace and the drive going due east. The terrace drive is the southern boundary of the cricket ground, and curves prettily to the main entrance near the avenue. By the laying out of this road the slopes surrounding the park are made equal, and the whole now looks picturesque and unique, and gives an uniformity to the whole domain which was wanting before the improvements were commenced. Turning sharp to the eastward from the terrace road, it is found that the two old roads have been dispensed with, and that a new road has been formed right in the centre of the plantation. This road, like the others, is 20 feet wide; is made of an easier grade than the old one, and is well crowned, so that walking is a pleasure on it, as contrasted with the old road. The slopes of the road to the creek are sown with the "Devonshire evergreen" grass and on the banks of the creek are planted many willows, which are already showing signs of very healthy growth. Spanning the muddy waters of the creek is a strong stone culvert, with decent looking side rails, the top of the roadway over it being five feet higher than the crown of the old footpath. The view from this point is very fine. On the right the terrace rises gradually; to the left the close masses of trees, and gentle slope to the cemetery gates; in front a fall view of the winding course of the creek, the rustic bridge dividing it into two, and at the western end the dam shows boldly out, and fringed us it is with willows, will, in time, become one of the prettiest spots in the domain. Leaving this enchanting scene, the drive now strikes right, into the eastern plantation, sweeping away to the left of the old roadway, and describing almost a semicircle, joins the road leading to the cemetery and also to that skirting the southern boundary of the park. The latter road follows exactly on the old lines, and the only alteration made to it has been to widen it to 20 feet. Midway on this road a right of-way to the centre of the domain, which is at present leased for grazing purposes, has been formed; it is central and convenient, and not at all in the way of the public. Passing by the willows and the oak trees, the road dipping into the western gully is reached, and here the now road takes a gentle sweep to the left, thus reducing the grade of the approach to the new stone culverts. Here some more filling in has been done, and the new road from it has been taken through the pinus insignia plantation, thus doing away with the old roads, one of which was too near the Main Road and the other too close to the inside wire fence. From the culvert the road gradually rises in semicircular shape till it, converges and loses its individuality in the terrace and avenue roads. And in the way thus described the park is circled, and the drive covered. The whole of the trees in the park, among which are pinus, spruce, oak, macrocarpa, deodia (cedar), Wellingtonia gigantea, are looking extremely well, and the park is at its best. The whole of the improvements were initiated by the Mayor and Councillors of the Borough of Timaru, sitting as commissioners of the Timaru Domain and Park Board, and were carried out mostly with cheap labour, I under the personal superintendence and direction of Mr Semmens, the park ranger, and a landscape gardener of much taste and intelligence. In conclusion we would urge on the authorities to have the cricket and tennis grounds put in order as quickly as possible, for from these grounds a large amount of revenue could be received. "Our special" ' knows of many cricketers who would rather play on the domain ground than at the creek, and would gladly pay a reasonable fee, each man, on the occasion of Saturday and Thursday matches. The general public also should do something, and, like His Worship the Mayor, we fully believe that they would respond liberally if called upon, to provide funds for keeping the park in beautiful order. It must be borne in mind that the ranger at certain seasons in the year needs extra help, and unless he gets it, the park is sure to suffer more or less in many respects. It is, therefore, sincerely to be hoped that His Worship and brother commissioners will soon fix on some scheme of providing funds.

House in gardens.

A cabbage tree to the left. Classic pan tiles on the roof..
In 1902 there was a one story caretaker's cottage. New Zealand's largest collection of species roses.
There is one bed of Gleniti Gold roses which were originally propagated by Arthur Bone who once had a nursery in the town.

Robert Burns
Born January 1759
Died July 1796
'The largest soul of all the British Lands'
The rank is but the guinea's stamp
The man's the gowd for a'that

Robert Burns statue in the Timaru Gardens.

Grey River Argus, 21 May 1913, Page 5 Far and near people of Canterbury and Otago foregathered in Timaru on Thursday May 22nd, 1913, to attend the unveiling.
STATUE OF BOBBY BURNS. A considerable interest is being taken in the ceremony. of unveiling the statue, of Robert Burns in the Park on Thursday. A special train has been arranged from Dunedin and there will be excursion fares from Christchurch and Oamaru. This statue is of marble just life size, set on a coromandel granite block. It is a gift Mr. J. Craigie M.P., to the town, and is placed near, the main entrance gates of the park. Sir Robert Stout is to be the principal speaker at the ceremony.

Poverty Bay Herald, 23 May 1913, Page 3
The statue was cut at Carrara, from an original design, and is said to be a good likeness. It represents' the poet standing, pen in hand, with his right arm across his breast and his left hand holding papers resting on a draped support. The costume is of the Edinburgh period. The figure stands on a plinth of Coromandel granite, with a Timaru stone base. The total height is 15ft. [McBride]

The 4th Feb. 2012 a mindless person removed the head of the 1.8 metre Robert Burns statue. The carved marble head later discovered by a member of the public at Patiti Point. It was found about a kilometre from the Timaru Botanical Gardens where the statue has been since its unveiling in May 1913. On 19 April 2012 a Ana Machadl, of Auckland, stone conservator, secured the head back on the statue using strong rods to strengthen it. She also used her stone-work expertise to repair Timaru's Boer War statue soldier's hat and its fingers and thumbs.

March 2012

Otago Witness, 6 January 1909, Page 70
A grey duck made the Park Committee of the Timaru Domain a very substantial Christmas present. The duck (says the Timaru Herald) had been very closely attending to domestic duties on the island in the ornamental water for some weeks, and on Christmas morn took eight of her infant sons and daughters out for their first swim. The instance is of more than passing importance, as it shows that the wild duck will rear a numerous family in captivity.


A. J. Fyfe, postcard

Don't forget to bring bread for the ducks.

Otago Witness, 19 November 1902, Page 69 TIMARU PARK.
(See Illustrations elsewhere in this issue, page 46.) The illustrations which appear on another page, entitled "Scenes in the Timaru Park," give an idea of what is known in the capital of South Canterbury as "The Park." In the past the distinguishing feature that entitled it to the name of "park" was not plain. Then it was merely a large block of land surrounded by a belt of pines, the centre being used as grazing paddocks, with a piece set apart for the use of the public as a football or cricket ground — but seldom used. Of late years, however, under progressive management, the appearance of the park has been altered for die better. Originally the park consisted of 50 acres, but four acres were fenced off and are now known as the Hospital Grounds. The ground was then under the administration of a Domain Board, and one of the first works of improvement consisted of planting a belt of four rows of pinus insignus and English trees round the entire block of 46 acres. Inside this a path ran on the northern side of the ground, the remainder, as mentioned above, being used for grazing purposes. As far as the writer can remember, the park was handed over about 17 years ago to the Borough Council, and about that time Mr Cross, the present caretaker, took charge. Since that time there has been steady but slow progress. Of course, with only one man to attend to 46 acres, progress must necessarily be slow. When the present caretaker took charge the walk and flower beds shown in photo No. 2 were part of the grazing paddock, and outside the inner fence was a flower bed with 27 rose trees! How the Timaru Park has what is termed the best collection in the colony of over 200 different varieties of roses, as well as an extensive collection of hardy herbaceous flowers. There are about three acres in flowers- and shrubbery, and another three acres were planted this year. Inside the two main walks about five acres has been set apart as a recreation reserve, which is only moderately patronised by footballers and cricketers, but before it will become the general rendezvous of devotees of these games the ground will need materially improving. A plan to effect this has been mentioned, but the want of funds is the only drawback, as there are other and more important improvements contemplated and in hand. There is a full of from 5ft to 6ft in this part of the ground, and the plan mentioned provides for the levelling, so as to make a cricket or football ground, with tennis courts at the upper end. Probably this work will engage the attention of councillors at an early date, as the need of such a ground close to the town is sorely required in Timaru. Under the old regime nothing was spent in improvements, nearly all the beautiful shrubs seen in the gardens now being propagated from seeds and cuttings ; and much of the credit — if not all — is entirely due to the present caretaker. Practically speaking, it is only within the last few months that any real improvement has been attempted by the Borough Council, who, recognising that Timaru, with such an asset as Caroline Bay, should be a much-frequented health resort, decided to keep the park in line with, the strides made by Timaru itself. The formation of the ground lent itself admirably to the plan, proposed by Mr Archer, borough engineer. Running through the centre of the ground is a creek, which, being dammed at the centre and at the lower end, formed good sized ponds. In the upper pond was placed an island (as shown in picture No. 4), which has been planted with shrubs, trees, etc. Paths will be laid out around these, and when the shrubs have grown. Timaru Park will be a pleasant holiday resort.
    The caretaker's residence, Mr Cross, was situated at the north-west corner of the park. 

Tanner Bros. Postcard. There are two duck ponds in the gardens.
One has a swamp cypress (Taxodium distichum) planted about 1948, a conifer, is a stunning red in May.
 On the northern side of the lower pond was a fine collection of New Zealand native plants.

White Ash
United States

April 2014
Erected in 1911 by the footballers and community of Timaru to commemorate the coronation of King George V. (Architect Hall & Marchant.)  The opening of the Coronation Band rotunda in the Timaru Botanical Gardens in 1912. Crowds surrounding the rotunda watch as the Timaru Garrison Band, under Bandmaster Schnack, play the first tune.  "Opening of the Coronation Band Rotunda, in the Park, Timaru 14 March 1912. The Mayoress, Mrs Craigie Cutting the Ribbon". Real photo by W. Ferrier 204.

Appendix to the Journals of the House of Representatives, 1909 Public Domains. Timaru Domain: part of Reserve No. 102.. Area 8 acres 1 rood 18 perches. Leased to South Canterbury Caledonian Society. Improvements now on domain: Grandstand, iron fence on three sides, plantation, oval sports-ground, bicycle track, caretaker's cottage and enclosures. Used for sports and football. The Star practice football grounds was at the park in 1904 and Mr Cross kept the ground in good order.

April 2014
Band Rotunda, April 2014

April 2014 

Otago Witness, 23 December 1908, Page 10
In the Timaru Domain is a specimen of laburnum which develops three distinct varieties of foliage. My attention was lately drawn to this freak, as it was termed, this laburnum, known as Cyticus Adami is said to have originated in 1825 in the nursery of D. Adam, at Vitry, near Paris resulted from a bud of Cyticus purpurcus (Cytisus purpureus) which had been inserted into a laburnum, and in time flowers intermediate between he two were produced. The singular part that the same tree will bear flowers of the laburnum. Cyticus purpurous and the graft hybrid Adami, the latter flower of a reddish buff. The characters cannot be depended upon to develop every year.

Timaru Herald 8 February 2007 Claire Haren
More heritage sites, buildings and precincts around the Timaru district could be identified and protected in the future. The Timaru District Council's resource planning and regulation committee yesterday supported a review of significant heritage buildings, structures and sites, and agreed to ask the full council to set aside some money for the process when it considered the budget this year. District planner Andrew Hammond said the council had carried out three heritage audits, but there were potentially still some gaps in that information, particularly in the area of heritage landscapes, precincts and streets. Mr Hammond said it had been identified that there were a number of important areas worthy of individual study. They included Caroline Bay and Centennial Park, the Gleniti Road homesteads and early lifestyle blocks around Timaru, the central Geraldine township, Pareora township and the meatworks, Peel Forest, Mesopotamia, Mt Peel, Te Moana Gorge, Orari Gorge, Waihi Gorge, Tripp Settlement, Totara Valley, and Maori Hill/Highfield/ Seaview (Beverley Hill/Beverley/ Kitchener Square).
Some historic areas are already recorded, including Kakahu Valley and the Timaru Botanic Gardens. The cost to carry out heritage inventories was estimated at $40,000, with a further $40,000 to carry out a plan change. However, Mr Hammond said there could be considerable opposition to a change, given the additional rules that would be placed on listed buildings, structures and sites. Cr Ray Bennett said the council had an obligation to start the process.
"The longer you leave it, the worse it becomes. You only have to see what's been happening with development of ownership units -- historic precincts of quite old houses have disappeared. We need to ensure certain precincts are preserved as much as we can, although I'm not suggesting a draconian approach." Cr Michael Oliver agreed the process should start, and said it should be carried out separately to a review of the whole district plan. "When you do it as a plan change outside that 10-year review process, you get a better result. When it comes to re-doing the district plan, these sorts of things are minor in the big picture."  

Remember the icecream days. Built to commemorate the coronation of George V.
Erected by the people of South Canterbury, Floral Fete Committee, Wm C. Raymond, Esq., President, 1922


The Jubilee Water Fountain

The Queen Victoria Sunken Garden. Photo taken Nov. 14 2009.
In 1897, the year of Queen Victoria's Jubilee, and many towns throughout New Zealand endeavoured to commemorate the event in a substantial way; and do some work that would be of benefit to the town and remain a more or less permanent mark of respect to the memory of a well-beloved Queen. Timaru's effort was the Jubilee Water Fountain outside the old Timaru Post Office (now located at the Timaru Botanical Gardens). Each side has wording

Erected to commemorate the fiftieth year of the reign of Queen Victoria.

W.F.D. Jervious, K.C.M.C.,

Moss Jonas, Esquire.
Mayor of Timaru.

E.H. Lough, Town Clerk

Residents do benefit from living adjacent to public gardens.

Found in the New Zealand native plant section, planted in 2002 - Anemanthele lessoniana
Genus: Anemanthele
Species: lessoniana
Common name: NZ Windgrass
New Zealand, Australia 

Celmisia spectabilis -
a daisy or Tikumu
I always called it the Mountain Daisy or Cotton Plant.

Sept. 2010
Helichrysum plumeum
Dwarf Shrub Daisy 

Eucalyptus grove

Eucalyptus behriana
Broad-leaved mallee Box
S.E. Australia
Eucalyptus cinerea
Argyle Apple
Rosacae garden origin (crab apple)
malus x robusta
Jersey Elm
Garden origin
Libertia formosa
Showy Libertia
Cupressus sempervirens
Italian Cypress
Pinus patula
Mexician Weeping Pine
Arbutus unedo
Strawberry tree

Golden deodar cedar
Cedrua deodara
Foliage: Evergreen
Mature Height: up to 60 ft.
Mature Width: up to 40 ft.

Timaru Gardens. photo by M.T.  A bit early. The daffodils not out in full, 11 September 2010. Trumpet Daffodils, Long Cup Daffodils, Double Daffodils, Cyclamineus Daffodils all grow well in Timaru.
Plant in harmony with the climate instead of constantly trying to conquer it.

Sept. 2010

Ranunculus lyallii
Mount Cook Lily, Giant Buttercup
Mount Cook

Poa cita
Wii, Silver Tussock
South Canterbury Mountains

Podocarpus nivalis
Snow Totara. Mountain Totara
Mount Cook

Blue tussock, Sept. 2010
Poa colensoi
Edible Tussock, Blue Tussock

This tree planted in 1994 commemorates the 100th anniversary of the first ascent of Mount Cook.
Phyllocadus alpinus
Mountain Toatoa
South Island Mountains

Mount Dalgety

Timaru Herald, 4 September 1893, Page 2
For some days past there have been numerous complaints to the police of flower stealing, Mr Cross of the domain, and Mr Drake of the cemetery, particularly suffering at the hands of the thieves. On Friday night last several very choice plants were missed from the domain, and the loss of these as reported by Mr Cross led the police to arrest a man named Burr who was found planting flowers which were similar to these which had been stolen. Accused was let out on bail, and will come before the Resident Magistrates Conrt this morning to answer charges of flower-stealing.

Timaru Herald,  5 September 1893, Page 2
A man named Burr was charged before the Resident Magistrate and the Major yesterday with stealing primroses and polyanthuses from the Domain, on the night of September lßt. Ho pleaded guilty. Constable Hallett stated that the theft of the flowers was reported by the Domain keeper, Mr Cross, and witness was going to see a certain suspected man when on the way he saw the accused planting out flowers of the kinds stolen. Witness asked him a few questions about them, and then fetched Mr Cross, who identified the flowers, and accused thereupon admitted the theft, and said be need not have stolen them for Mr Cross would have given him the flowers. Sergeant- Major McDonald, who led the evidence, stated that therehbad been many complaints of thefts of flowers. The accused's employer for the last four years gave him an excellent character for honesty ; he had found him thoroughly honest. Accused said he had no excuse, and he did not know at all what made him do it. The Bench consulted, and remarking that this kind of theft is difficult to bring home to the guilty, and that it is too common, said the offence could not. be looked over. Taking into consideration the accused's good character they would not send him to prison, but ordered him to pay a fine of 40s.

The Timaru Herald 8/7/2008
Timaru man Trevor Griffiths continues his series of reminiscences of his early life in Timaru. Today he recalls the beginning of his working life at the Timaru Botanic Gardens. Those of you who like myself were born in the 20s and 30s will remember perhaps with some regret that a primary and secondary education was of the utmost importance. But you had to be particularly lucky to go on to a university to achieve degrees in your chosen subjects. Under the circumstances existing at the time it was impossible for me to go on to achieve something higher although I had the qualifications to do so. So it was with much trepidation and more than a little nervousness I reported for work at the King Street gates of the Botanical Gardens. Fresh from Boys High, aged 19, it was February 4, 1947 that my working life commenced. There on that morning about 7.45am there was quite a group of men assembled waiting for the gates to be opened. Two choice pieces of advice were given to me at this time. One, "not to complain about the system because there wasn't one", the other "never to get the pacemaker rushed" and when I asked "who was the pacemaker?" the answer came back "the slowest in the group". Needless to say I walked across the yard with the other men more than a little mystified. I met the foreman Bill Walker immediately and he assigned me to assist Jack Houston with the weeding and tidying of several frames of anemones and ranunculus. Bill Walker was a tall kindly man who walked with a stoop and was a fund of knowledge to a young fellow wanting to learn. The frames we were working in stretched along the length of a brick wall which seemed about six or more feet high. In the centre of this wall was a large locked door, behind which was housed a 44 gallon drum of petrol for the limited number of mowers etc at that time. Compared with today the system was so different. You asked the foreman for the key to the petrol locker. You had to justify your need for the petrol. You then took your one or two gallon tin to the locker and hand pumped carefully the amount required before signing for it in the book provided before padlocking the storage locker. I was never sure of how many men worked for the Reserves Department but they were allocated in this way. There were two "outside gangs" for the want of a better word. One was led by Jim Milligan and the other by Wally Jackson. These two groups had a roving commission and from time to time attended to the seasonal needs of the various reserves and sports-grounds within the city. On wet days they came back to the nursery yard and buildings where they made wooden plant boxes, washed pots, sharpened and serviced tools and made up soil mixes. The nursery yard complex, the actual base for all the staff members, was serviced by four to 10 men depending on the weather and the season. The mower gang consisted of probably four men using two tractors and two sets of gang mowers and two very large ATCO mowers which even the strongest men found difficult to control. It was always a matter of great merriment to see Wally Ruston, a man of only five feet high, swinging on the bar of his ATCO. The others concerned with the grass areas of the city were Jack Waddington, Jack Greig and from time to time Roy Hammond who was also the caretaker of the Caledonian Grounds. There was at this time a very fine herbaceous border stretching along the south side of the drive almost from the statue of Robert Burns and almost as far away as the Tea Kiosk. This was maintained by Don Heddell with others helping from time to time. Alec McKenzie was in charge of Caroline Bay with extra help when needed, while Bernie O'Leary and Jack Houston mostly had the begonia house, the fernery and the cactus house under their care. Two other men who held important responsibilities were Ollie Milne and Harry Stephens. Ollie could have come from the Royal Navy as he stoked and cared for the two Robin Hood coal-fired furnaces which heated the begonia house and cactus house and the propagating glasshouses with love and devotion. Harry, after returning from the war, took care of all the painting and glass repairs and assisted generally. One sunny morning a temporary gardener was sent up to weed and hoe the beds outside the cactus and begonia houses with disastrous results. He was not to know that two or three weeks before we had planted a large number of Statice sinuata in this same area. He cheerfully hoed the lot out. The plants at this early stage grew flat along the ground and were not unlike dandelions. The nursery yard also had a large open ground area where various shrubs and trees were grown to a reasonable size for planting in public places. A W Anderson, the curator of the Botanical Gardens and a diploma holder from Kew Gardens in London, was in today's terms "the boss". On one of his rare visits to the open nursery area he arrived on the scene and instructed myself and my workmate to bring down the handcart from the yard which had already been supplied with a spade, a shovel, wire netting, small rocks and two pairs of gumboots. We carefully "lifted" a tree some six or more feet high which we placed on the handcart. It looked like a redwood (sequoia) but it had no leaves. We followed him down to the western end of the lower or second duck pond and were told we would now plant the tree. His instructions were "put the gumboots on and dig a hole in the mud big enough to take the roots". (The pond had previously been drained.) "Cover the roots with wire netting and rocks with some mud". The photo clearly shows the swamp cypress (Taxodium distichum) as it is today. This is the tree which grows in profusion in the everglades in Florida. With age it will lift its roots out of the water. It is now 60 years since we "placed" it there.

April 2014
Cupressus sempervirens
Italian Cypress

Nov. 2009
cupressaceae S.E. USA
Taodium distichum
Swamp Cypress

Mention of this lower pond brings back memories of several of us young ones about nine or 10 years old riding our bikes across the frozen surface of this pond when the winters seemed to be much colder. On one occasion I started from the north or coldest side of the pond and when over half-way across the ice began to buckle and break. Luckily I reached the other side with the bicycle through the ice. On the northern side of the lower pond was a fine collection of New Zealand native plants and from time to time we would be instructed to tidy up the area. At that time there were two kauri trees (Agathis australis) about 20 feet high growing happily among the other natives. Visiting the area recently they were nowhere to be seen. One long serving member of the staff George Laplanche (known to others as Renee) told us the during the depression some of the temporary workers, safe in the knowledge that Mr Anderson was absent from the gardens, would shoot ducks on the pond from the cover of the native bush to provide food for their families. All in all I have to say that all of the staff worked happily together and I was never aware of any disagreements. Possibly this was because in fine weather the men were placed all over the city and only when the weather was really bad they would come together for a short time. Two men who stand out in my memory for different reasons were Jack Brake and Ted Childs. We did not see them very often but when the weather turned sour they would come back to the nursery yard where their expertise in the pot washing department was well recognised. Ted, an elderly man, was a dour Englishman from County Durham while Jack was an ever happy Kiwi, always smiling. They sometimes would be pot washing for three days on end. They worked under conditions that would never be accepted today. Old laundry tubs with cold water only not even gloves supplied. In passing I would ask Ted "how are you today" and his always same reply would come back, "better now before I was then". There were other duties of course, some of which you may not classify as being of a horticultural nature. The gardens department maintained quite a large collection of trees and shrubs, hydrangeas and cyclamen in pots, half barrels and boxes. These were used frequently for functions in the Theatre Royal, Bay Hall and council chambers as well as other venues.  

Auckland Star, 23 June 1934, Page 2
Margaret Rose
Sat on a pin,
Margaret Rose.

by Keith Walker, Raglan, age 13.

New Zealand Gazette 1864: reserve 344 of approximately 23 hectares was set aside "for a public park". The land was described as being bounded by Queen St, High St, King St and the Boulevard (later West Town Belt, then Park Avenue and now Domain Avenue).

Timaru Herald, 8 February 1875, Page 1
To carpenters, ADDITIONS to the Ranger's Cottage, Timaru Domain. Drawings and Specifications may be seen at my office, Barnard-street, Timaru, where Tenders must be left not later than 12 o'clock noon on FRIDAY, Feb. 12, 1875. D. WEST, Architect.

Timaru Herald, 3 December 1878, Page 4 growing Crop of hay
R. TURNBULL has received instructions from the Timaru Park Commissioners, to Sell by Public Auction, at his Room, THIS DAY, At 12 o'clock, The Growing Crop of Hay in Timaru Domain, 25 Acres, or thereabouts. 

South Canterbury NZGenWeb Project

New Zealand's first botanic garden in Dunedin was established on June 30, 1863. It is 10 days older than the Christchurch garden.

L. Nimoy (1931-2015) Final public statement was on Sunday, five days before he died. "A life is like a garden. Perfect moments can be had, but not preserved, except in memory, ' he wrote and signed off "LLAP" short for Live long and prosper.

The kiss of the sun for pardon
The song of the birds for mirth
One is nearer God's heart in a garden
Than anywhere else on Earth