The Garden Guide

Book: History of Garden Design and Gardening
Chapter: Chapter 5: Gardens in Asia, America, Africa, Australia

Gardening in New Zealand

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941. New Zealand. It is an interesting fact relating to New Zealand, that all the common fruits of England, as well as those of tropical climates, thrive as well there as in this country, though the thermometer from the end of December to the middle of February usually stands at from 75ᆭ to 80ᆭ. The soil is a black vegetable mould, frequently from four to six feet deep, with a subsoil of yellow clay; and the general appearance of the country is represented as park-like-'rich valleys with gentle slopes and woody knolls, dark groves of pines, apparently sloped by art, rivers and mountain streams.' In one place there is a rich valley extending for forty miles inland, clear of trees, and covered with the finest grass. (Gardeners' Chronicle for 1843, p. 605.) The aspect of the vegetation is, however, gloomy, as the foliage of the trees is generally of a dark purple tinge, and there are very few flowers. The tree-ferns are the most conspicuous objects in the woods. At Port Nicholson, New Zealand, ' kidneybeans and scarlet-runners are not good till the second year; and even broad or Windsor beans produce their best crop in the second year. Scarlet kale [? red cabbage] is never good, for want of frost to sweeten it: it is bitter.' (Sir Everard Home, in the Bot. Mag. for 1847, p. 29.) The Wellington Horticultural Society was formed at Port Nicholson before that settlement was two years old, and it has been very prosperous, having been supplied with plants from the botanic garden at Sydney, and from Messrs. Loddiges. New Zealand is admirably adapted for a horticultural or a botanical garden, as plants of all climates flourish in it even better than they do at Sydney, as they are not in the same danger of suffering from drought. Another horticultural society, with a garden annexed, was formed at Nelson before the calamities that befel that settlement in 1843. At New Plymouth, Taranaki, a horticultural society was established on the 1st of December, 1842, and between forty and fifty members enrolled their names, though the first body of settlers only landed there in March, 1841. Considering the many cares and difficulties attending a new settlement, this speaks volumes in favour of the taste existing in New Zealand for horticultural pursuits.