Celebrating the





To mark this event several publications have been prepared to record its story.  They are in pdf format to download from the Friends web site and view on your computer.  Instructions are included to print if required, also binding formatting requirements.

The Shepherd and Cook garden history was completed in the early 1980s. 
This has not been updated for the 150th Anniversary, and is no longer generally available..
This History and Heritage series of e-books has been prepared to fill the gap.
New and updated material has become available to augment the earlier history
and updates of these publications has been done as required
as new sources and information has become available.
Many new historic images have become available, 
especially from the large postcard collection of Donal Duthie,
but also other sources including early newspapers available from Papers Past.

They are available AT NO COST,
although if you enjoyed them a donation to the Friends would be appreciated. 
This can be made by  internet banking
to account 02 0500 0080203 00.
Please note in particulars section 'book donation'
Thank you in anticipation

Click on link to download file, then save to your computer for future reference, and to save additional downloads.
As further information has become available the material has been updated, quite extensively in some instances.
The latest version numbers are shown for each publication.

NOTE:  Files have been prepared for computer/web viewing. 
If printing is required, higher resolution versions printer friendly are available. 
Please send request to

The publications are

The 13 acre reserve (AKA Main Garden)

A basically chronological record of its development.
http://www.friendswbg.org.nz/books/13acrereserve.pdf   CLICK TO DOWNLOAD

Version 6.8

This publication comprises 44  pages and over 60 graphic files,  photos, maps etc. 

It focusses on the physical development of the site, and the significant land modification that has taken place.  The original site was split by the deep, heavily vegetated Pipitea Stream which ran through the valley floor, and which was initially bridged by culverts to have access to the best areas, before finally being piped and filled in with material from what became Magpie  Lawn.  Extensive earthworks were also undertaken to develop the Sound Shell Lawn, and the area around the Mairiri Road Entrance.

From high ridges to more moderate slopes, deep steeply sided naturally bush clothed gullies eroded from the valley floor, and what limited flat land there was tended to be very wet, especially in the winter, this has been transformed over the last 150 years to what we see and enjoy today.  Trees and plants  have changed over the years, but with historic specimens still present,  and facilities improved.

Apart from Pinus radiata, the  introduction of the plants and trees which formed a central part of the initial operation of the garden has not been covered, as it would require a publication of its own.

The development of this area is a fascinating one, and this comprehensive review covers many aspects over its 150 years of existence, from the very earliest days before it became a garden, to now.

Initially it was described as a Colonial Garden, established by the then Government for the benefit of the whole country.  It was only in 1891 when the Wellington City Council took over its management did it become a true 'Wellington' garden, and become available for recreational use by the citizens of this city.


Author P C Tomlinson

The Colonial Garden
and those who also created
the Wellington Botanic Garden
over the last 150 years.


Version 12.10.8

Focussing on the various directors of the garden over the years, and the legacy they have left for us all to enjoy.

This comprehensive publication covered both the 13 acre reserve/Main Garden and the later added Wesleyan Reserve

It comprises some 12 pages, with some 170 illustrations.  It reviews what the area was like before the garden was developed, and the main work done to produce what we see today.  The publication looks at the work of all the various directors, curators, managers that have worked on the garden, plus some other important individuals who have left their mark on the landscape. 

This publication looks at the history of the Wellington Botanic Garden, or rather the major events associated with the directors, keepers, managers, curators, etc. over the years, and the legacy they have left. 

It is easy to forget that the garden we see today is very different from what existed 150 years ago.  We often forget that the site has been significantly altered  as part of its development.  The main land modifications have been -

  -  Around 1882-84 the levelling of the area we now know as the Sound Shell Lawn.  The cutting of the bank under Dray Road (now Buchanan Way) and the building of the bank along  William Bramley Drive, to provide a flat area, not the moderately steep slope that originally existed.
  -  November 1906 clearing of vegetation and installing drainage prior to filling Honeymans Gully under Anderson Park to create a  sports ground.  Gully south of Anderson Park remains.
   -  1907 the Mariri Road entrance was cleared of pines and the area significantly re-contoured.
   -  From 1927 to 1930 the Pipitea Stream running for  most of the length of Glenmore Street was cleared of vegetation, and the
stream was piped.  The area was then filled by spoil from what was to become Magpie Lawn.  The stream through the Duck Pond  was rerouted. 
   -  From  1931 to 1934 demolition of  the western ridge to its present level and filling the southern end of Honeymans Gully and laying extensive storm water drains  took place.  The level of Anderson Park was raised to conform with that of the new extension. The new land was used for extra sports fields until, with Anderson Park, it became the site of an American Marine Camp during the Second World War. After the war it was restored and used as a sports ground until the building of the Lady Norwood Rose Garden from 1951.
  -  During 2016-17 to allow  the construction of the Children's Garden (now Discovery Garden) extensive eartworks were undertaken to the site for the new garden and provide the building platform and terraced garden area.

We look at these developments, and other changes  which have altered the Wellington Botanic Garden over the last 150 years, providing  the features we enjoy so much today.

Author P C Tomlinson

Northern Development
of the Wellington Botanic Garden

http://friendswbg.org.nz/books/northerndevelopment.pdf     CLICK TO DOWNLOAD
Version 4.21
This publication owes its origin to two planned walks for the 150th Anniversary events, covering the Anderson Park, rose garden and herb garden area, and secondly the establishment of the peace gardens in the area.  37 pages,  over 60 images

This area was subjected to major land modification to achieve the current  flat areas and is  now the most visited area in the garden.  The story of the area focuses on this activity.

In addition to the normal text and illustrations, it also includes copies of some newspaper reports of some human interest features. 


http://www.friendswbg.org.nz/books/WATERFEATURES.pdf  CLICK TO DOWNLOAD
Version 4.12

Water has played a major factor in the development of the character of the WBG site and has provided many  of the most appreciated  attractions we now enjoy.

This publication looks at these features, and includes many images, both historic and modern.

It presents some serious views, but primarily is a bit of fun

29  pages, over 55 graphic illustrations

The Garden has been lucky with the people who have been involved, especially with its early development.
This publication tells the story of their background and involvement.

people.pdf  click to download


This pulsation looks aspects of the garden not covered elsewhere in this series.
The story of the observatory reserve is detailed. 
Other articles come from research undertaken for various garden walks,
containing both factual and historical material of general interest.

miscellany.pdf  click to download

Maps and Plans

A selection of maps and plans appropriate to the garden, showing changes over the years.

http://www.friendswbg.org.nz/books/maps.pdf   CLICK TO DOWNLOAD
Version 5.1

In the preparation of the above publications, a number of plans and maps of the garden were obtained. 
These are reproduced here for your interest and resource.


Posted Under Difficulty
The story of a postcard
and a massive fund raising party
By Donal Duthie and Phil Tomlinson

The story of the fete held in 1912, and the special post office operating in the garden

http://www.friendswbg.org.nz/books/posted.pdf   CLICK TO DOWNLOAD
Version 4.2

Donal Duthie published in the Friends Newsletter some notes on this interesting and historic event. This publication expands on that article.

The fete was a community effort which attracted large crowds.  A special feature was a post office in the garden, where postcards bearing a 'botanic garden' cachet was applied as a special  feature.  Only one of these postcards has survived, and this tells the story of that card and what else was provided to entertain visitors, and encourage them to open their wallets.

An interesting piece of history that has not been repeated.

100 years of postcards  1890 to 1990
From the Donal Duthie postcard collection
Plus other images of the Garden

http://friendswbg.org.nz/books/greetings.pdf      CLICK TO DOWNLOAD

Version  6.23

Nearly 100 postcards are illustrated, plus some 40 images from his own photographs, plus some others. 
This is an excellent view of the Garden from its earliest years, and a fitting production for the forthcoming 150 year anniversary.




All are fully illustrated, and contain much new material and information not generally known about the development of the areas.

Information on the plant introductions are not covered at this stage, apart from Pinus radiata.