Recently I visited the Botanical Gardens of two New Zealand cities, Dunedin and Christchurch. It was an uplifting experience to wander in the gardens and see a snapshot of the plants and trees of New Zealand’s South Island and especially the roses bred here.
As the quote above states, I left feeling at peace and grateful that we have many Botanical Gardens worldwide that allow locals and visitors to view specialist plant collections. When you only have a morning in a foreign city, the gardens are a tremendous source of inspiration and knowledge and welcome pleasurable spaces to explore away from the urban landscape. A bonus is that they are usually free and open every day.
The concept of Botanical gardens dates back to 16th Century Renaissance Italy when professors of botany from the medical faculties would grow collections of medicinal plants. Today, they act as living museums with a wide variety of specialised collections and have a vital role in conserving plant species and continuing research on botany. They also partner with universities and institutions on conservation, ecology, and biodiversity projects to protect endangered species and plant breeding programmes.
A rose in the Dunedin gardens that piqued my curiosity was Cappuccino Rose because it was so similar to my Spiced Coffee roses and with the same name as another rose in an entirely different colouring. The New Zealand Cappuccino rose has antique pink buds that open into clusters of soft old-world blooms in aging cream, blush, pink and coffee colours.
Although it was a cloudy day in the Dunedin garden, these roses were stunning in their subdued, muted pastel, and understated colouring, unlike many more vibrant roses. This 120 cm tall rose is a Hybrid Tea Bush with the International name Mattcup, and it was bred by Bob Mathews, New Zealand, in 2018. Cappuccino Rose spoilt me as no other rose appeared as spectacular after viewing, perhaps because it would be a great addition to my collection.
In contrast and vibrantly beautiful were the rich deep mauve roses that are called in Australia Thank You roses, but they also are known as Plum Perfect or Vodacom in New Zealand. Another spectacular Kordes Floribunda rose bred by Tim Hermann Kordes in Germany in 1997- KORvodacom.
These roses grow into short bushy, upright shrubs and have clusters of blooms with a strong fragrance, pointed bud shape, and ruffled bloom form in flushes throughout the season. They will reach a height of up to 120 cm and have medium glossy, leathery foliage.
Inspired by the visit to Dunedin, I stopped at the Christchurch Botanic Gardens and was immediately awed by the beauty and age of the trees that dominate this stunning garden. One of the oldest, most spectacular trees is the Albert Edward Oak, which was planted on July 9 1863, to celebrate Prince Albert’s marriage to Princess Alexandra of Denmark. The tree is said to be the beginning of today’s gardens. Evidently, before 1863, the gardens were wetlands and sand dunes that, over time, have been transformed to be
The garden has many commemorative trees, including the avenue of Linden Trees (Tilia Europaea) called the Beswick Walk, which was planted in 1917 and named after Henry Joseph Beswick, a former Mayor of Christchurch, in 1896. I could only imagine the walk in autumn and how spectacular the bright golden yellow carpet of leaves would be to walk through.
The highlight was the Central Rose Garden, a dedicated formally set-out garden with modern shrub roses in spectacular bloom. The design was based on the Duchess of Sutherland’s rose garden in Herefordshire, England and developed in New Zealand in 1909 with 250 rose varieties.
A majestic old standard Peace Rose
The Central Rose Garden and the Heritage Rose Garden won the prestigious International World Federation Of Roses award for Best Gardens in 2018. It would be amazing to view this garden from above in its perfectly formed circular setting. The Peace rose stood out and was impressive, along with many other incredible rose blooms. In my haste to take pictures on another grey New Zealand day, I did not note all the names.
The Avon river winds through and borders Hagley Park and Christchurch gardens. Over the small bridge on the other side of the garden sits the Heritage Rose Garden, which has a familiar wildness because masses of thickly planted perennials fill the park as companions to the heritage old-world roses. As it is now the middle of January, most Heritage roses have finished flowering, but the perennials were magnificent.
Tomorrow I will be back in my garden, inspired and stimulated by the opportunity to be in a different natural environment, rich in history with hidden treasures and landscapes that have given me many new ideas. Observing wonderful gardens inspires awe and wonder and most definitely alters one’s mood and makes you appreciate the work and dedication that has gone into creating such amazing gardens for us all to enjoy.
Do yourself a favour and wander through your local or another Botanical garden; there is something delightful to discover for everyone!
Content Di Baker 2023
Title quote by Jessica Coupe
Images Di Baker January 2023