Edward Hutt
Served 1947 to 1965


A scheme to develop a rose garden and begonia house was expressive of a forceful new director and a community moving to reclaim its open spaces many of which had been appropriated by the military during the Second World War. It was also expressive of an affluent post-war Parks Department which compared to the 1920's and 1930's had money to burn. In 1965 at the end of Hutt's reign Wellington had the best funded parks department in the country.

Hutt began his directorship in February 1947. That month he produced a report detailing a plan for the reorganisation of the department. It begins with comments on the organization of the Directors office. It had no adequate filing system. Nor is there evidence of any landscape plans for the development of parks and reserves. Those plans that were on file referred only to the engineering side of developments. As a result of this one of his recommendations was that any future development of parks and reserves should involve the preparation of detailed plans for their layout and that these plans should be the responsibility of the Director. In 1957 Hutt wanted to employ a landscape architect because the planning and design of parks and reserves was now the responsibility of the Director of Parks. Previously such work was done by the Engineers Department. Because the Parks and Reserves Department had grown over the previous ten years the Director's role had become more of a political and administrative job than before. This request had no outcome and the Department was not to get its first landscape architect until the late 1960's. It is interesting that few early files remain relating to the garden, even in Archives.  It has been noted that more recently a staff member cleared the old records out, not archiving them, believing they were redundant, and as a result much early information has unfortunately been lost.

On becoming director in 1947 Hutt wasted no time in reorganising the department and getting new projects up and running. That year the new plant nursery at Berhampore was built. This operated as a factory ultimately pumping out large numbers of bedding plants for use in the Botanic Garden and throughout the city. It was also where trees and shrubs were grown on until 1956 when this function was relocated to an open ground nursery at Makara.

At the Botanic Garden Hutt extended seasonal features such as spring tulip displays which at their most extensive consumed between 70 and 100 thousand bulbs though some of these were also used in city plantings. Throughout the 1950's he tidied up the Main Garden by installing stone walls and establishing the present Camellia and Peace gardens.

After Berhampore Nursery was estblished a Rose Garden and conservatory were Director Edward Hutt's next big horticultural project and in July 1948 the plan for these was published in The Dominion newspaper. Roses do not seem to have featured in the Botanic Garden of the Board (1869-1891) in the way that camellias and rhododendrons were. What James Hector, Wellington Botanic Gardens first Director, did establish in the 1870's was a teaching garden on the site of the present Sound Shell Lawn. The layout of this garden with its formal rectangular beds was to become the basic structure of the first Rose Garden in the Botanic Garden. The Teaching Garden remained unchanged after the City Council took over the Botanic Garden in 1891 and remained unchanged until well into the 1900's. Photographs of the cleared newly planted Main Garden dating from circa 1906 show that it was still intact at that date, although up to 1910 other photographs show that at its southern end some of the rectangular beds had been modified and were used for displays of seasonal annuals


The use of the Sunken Garden as a perennial border ended in 1948 with a massed display of hyacinths, part of a gift given to the people of New Zealand by the Dutch Government. From this time on, the spring bulb displays begun by MacKenzie were enlarged enormously by Hutt. One element of the old perennial border, the dahlias, persisted, and were a regular part of the autumn display in the Sunken Garden until the early 1980's

Spring tulip displays initiated by MacKenzie were extended by Hutt. They reached their greatest extent during the late 1950's and early 1960's, when up to 100,000 bulbs were planted. After Ian Galloway became Director these displays were slowly reduced in size, a trend reinforced during the 1970's by the recession and the need to cut costs. The same factors have affected the use of daffodils, also introduced on a large scale by MacKenzie during the 1930's. In the early 1960's 12,000 of these bulbs were bedded out or planted on the grassed banks annually. Some are still grown on the slopes above the Sunken Garden, in an area difficult to maintain over the winter months.

Though spring bulb displays have been reduced in size carpet bedding is still a major seasonal feature in the Main Garden. After 1968 the area between the Main Drive and Glenmore Street was cleared of many old, overgrown trees dating from Glen's plantings of the early to mid 1900's. With the removal of these shade trees an even greater area has been taken up by seasonal bedding displays.
Under Hutt, during the 1950's the Main Garden was given a finishing trim with the cutting back of many of the banks along the drives, and the addition of permanent details such as the natural stone walls. The stone bridge on the Main Drive was built at this time, and in the early 1950's the Sound Shell Lawn, was laid where the Rose Garden had been. In 1959-60 the old camellias planted by the Board were cut out and replaced with new varieties. At the same time the garden was extended further up the gully, and part of the patch of kohe kohe and kanuka was cut down to make way for it. The large white Magnolia campbellii halfway up the gully was planted in 1960 by Peter Cadegan, foreman at that time. Later in 1971-72, the site of the old nursery on the right hand ridge was cleared and the camellia plantings were extended. The furthest group in this area was received as a gift from the Mayor of Tokyo in 1970, and beside them are several bushes of C 'Great Western' that may date back to the Board's time.  Mulching in the early 1970's changed the quality of this garden dramatically. Now, with its lush plantings of flowering and foliage ground cover, it is a very successful local version of a woodland garden. It demonstrates that given shelter, water, and mulch, a lot of things can be grown well in Wellington. The solid evergreen foliage of the camellias is in character with many of the native trees surrounding the garden such as kohekohe, karaka and hinau

Throughout the 1950's and 60's rhododendrons were planted with other trees and shrubs on the Glenmore Hills and in the borders and rockeries of the Main Garden.  One small group struggling in the bush on the north eastern slope of Druid Hill was planted there in the winter of 1960. They had been part of a planting below the fountain at Kelburn Park, but after a landslide had made this site unsuitable they were moved to the Botanic Garden. The tenacity of this group of rhododendrons over the years, in the face of appalling odds is to be admired.

In 1968 the Wahine Storm blew down the old macrocarpas at the top of the valley below Horseshoe Bend to the south of the Play Area.  The resulting clearance was replanted with flowering and deciduous ornamental trees under the direction of Bill Lanmc who was then foreman. Rhododendrons made up the largest group of plants here, and they have since been added to. This has been a successful planting, except for one section of the valley where most of the rhododendrons there have died of the root fungus phytophera. At about the same time as this was being established, and into the early 1970's, Donal Duthie, then nursery foreman, began to propagate quantities of rhododendrons from cuttings and seed.  The resulting collection was planted out in the valley between the Nursery and the Play Area, and on the banks along the path above the Duck Pond.  In its heyday this was a fine collection comprising many species and varieties.  Though a good number of these plants survive today the plantings have been well thinned - dry summers, clay banks, and phytophera taking their toll.

Rose Garden development
Rose Garden under development 1950

Anderson Park (foreground) and gully before filled in for rose garden
Anderson Park extension 1931-34, in the process of filling in the gully
 which was used as a rubbish tip for many years.

For information on the 1931 development of the area used for the Rose Garden, see the notes on Director Mackenze. click

The plan for the rose garden  complex of gardens was most likely the work of the Director Edward Hutt. It was certainly the largest addition to the Botanic Garden established during his directorship (1947-1965) .

The idea of building a rose garden on this site was suggested in 1948. Work began in 1950 and between then and 1953 the garden was developed and planted. It was without a pergola until 1961, its northerly aspect protected from the wind by a fence of manuka brush.

In 1950 the Council decided that the new Rose Garden would be named atter Lady Norwood as an appreciation of the services rendered to the city by herself and Sir Charles. An actual link between the Garden and its namesake came about in 1956 when Lady Norwood donated a fountain for the centre of the Garden. Like its later neighbour, the Begonia House, the Lady Norwood Rose Garden completes the development of a horticultural feature within the Garden, the origins of which go back to the days of George F. Glen.

Rosina Ann Norwood, 1930's after whom the Rose Garden is  named

At the same time as the valley containing the Rose Garden and Begonia House was being developed, so were the horticultural areas along the access routes to it, from the Cable Car. The present waterfall occupies the position marking the bottom of a gully that stretched up towards Salamanca Road. This, and the surrounding slopes were originally covered with kanuka, an area of which still survives on the southern boundary of the present lawn. Until the late 1920's plantations of macrocarpas and pines grew along the eastern boundary Road from the weather office to the tennis courts. These were cut down by MacKenzie and replaced with a double row of pohutakawas. The inner row of these was removed in 1965-66, the trees being used in other parts of the city. The line of remaining trees was thinned, and those retained were moved back from the roadway so that they had space to develop

The mature scrub that covered the area of the present Salamanca Road Lawn in 1902 was cleared as a result of the great fire of 1906.  In 1922 this clearance was still maintained, the ridge on the right above the waterfall being completely open, while that on the left was covered with pine plantations.  The right hand ridge had probably been kept free from regrowth scrub as it offers a distant, but grandstand view of Anderson Park Maintenance of the area was abandoned during the 1930's and by 1943 well established regrowth scrub covered all the previously cleared areas

Developed Anderson Park, Rose Garden and Begonia House area  from Herb Garden lookout

From the late 1940s onwards, the scrub was cleared and the final development of the area began. The valley was used as a tip by the Garden and the city until October 1957 when it was closed down.  Ian Galloway remembered that he and the Assistant Director Charlie Grant started a fire in the tip to reduce rubbish before filling the valley.  It burned for almost a

Rose Garden being developed  1954
before construction of the begonia house

month, after which the valley was filled and the surrounding area bulldozed into shape and sown with grass.  Since then continued development has completely tailored the area, eliminating clay banks and creating a smoothly undulating surface.  Specimen trees have been planted, the swamp cypresses and the large oak beside the path date from the initial major development of 1957-58.  The other oaks were moved from the Glenmore Hills in the mid 1970's, and the alders were planted about 1981.  If an example is wanted of the limitations imposed on deciduous trees by situations exposed to the northwesterly wind, then this is it.  They develop the character of an oversized bonsai exacerbated in this case by shallow rocky soil which dries out in summer.  Nor do all conifers escape the effects of this environment.  At the top of the lawn opposite the Meteorological Building there is a small stand ot old redwoods planted by the Botanic Garden Board.  They are dwarfed as a result of the clay soils and wind, and provide a startling contrast in size to their giant contemporaries at the southern end of the Glenmore Lawns in the Garden below.

Lady Norwood Begonia House

In addition to their involvement with the Rose Garden, the Norwoods were major contributors to the establishment of the begonia house, offering to assist with the extentions to the original house in the nursery, and later with the Anderson Park development.

In 1939 the Norwood family first came into the picture when Lady Norwood offered £200 for effecting improvement to the Begonia House located in the nursery area. Unfortunately the war years prevented any developments in the gardens and although plans were prepared in 1945 for further extensions to the begonia house - limited finance meant the Council could not afford the £500 new wing, even with the donations from the Norwood's. 3 years later Norwood offered £300 necessary for the extension but other developments and improvements were taking precedence at this stage. Finally in June 1960, after talking with Director Edward Hutt, Norwood generously donated the sum of £20,000 for the construction of a new Begonia House to face onto the new Lady Norwood Rose Garden. Now that the Berhampore Nursery had been established, the planned Begonia House could act as a glasshouse the whole year round, and include the most exotic indoor plants.

The structure is constructed of brick aluminium frame, and Belgium plate glass imported especially from Europe.  and covered an ground area of 1,115 sq. meters, although this has increased with the later addition of the cafe and lilly pond areas. The most modern amenities were incorporated, including modern infra red heating, florescent lighting, ventilation by suction fans etc. The opening of the building was planned for Christmas and everything went smoothly - the grand opening took place on 22nd December 1960, and was presided over by Mayor Francis Kitts and Premier Keith Holyoake, and of course the Norwoods The house typically contains some 5,000 plants. 

Mr. W.A. Dentice of Messrs. E. Cooper Ltd., (Seed Merchant & Growers) to commemorate their centenary of opening, bestowed a gift of £1,000 for furnishing winter growing plants in the begonia house. Another benefactor - Mrs. J. Poole, in 1971 donated a unique collection of nerines - 41 varieties which were virtually unprocurable in N.Z.

Rose Garden and Begonia House aerial view 1987
The new glasshouse was recognised as the largest in the Southern Hemisphere at the time. The famous begonias which are displayed in summer, with, in winter varieties of cyclamen,cineraria, gloxinia, scizanthus, calceolaria, orchids, hibiscus, liliums, poinsettia and bouganvillea. Tropical subjects are  coleus, bromeliades (from which pineapple comes)) banana palms and many more varieties. The complete display includes about 5,000 separate plants. The Begonia House has proved a very popular addition to the gardens in its picturesque location overlooking the Lady Norwood Rose Gardens and many people appreciate the enjoyment of viewing the beautiful and exotic collection of plants and shrubs.

Later, in 1981 a Tea House was added onto the Begonia House, constructed beautifully to blend in with the existing architecture of the building. And again in 1989 the Lily House was added to the ia complex to complete the structure we see now, although in 2012 a shop area was added, with a kitchen and storage area.  In 2014 structural work was undertaken to meet new earthquake requirements.  These developments were the work of later Directors.

When the City Council took over the Botanic Garden in 1891, the Teaching Garden became the Enclosed Garden. The Enclosed Garden came to feature formal bedding, and incorporated Hector’s established cabbage trees and native trees. By about 1910, the Enclosed Garden was planted with roses, and the space became the Rosary.  The roses were subsequently cleared from this area when the rose collection was moved to the Lady Norwood Rose Garden and to allow the erction of the  Sound Shell.

Concerts at the Botanic Garden were popular from 1904, which led to the construction of a band rotunda in 1907 on the Puriri Lawn south of the Duck Pond. The rotunda remained until 1953 when the Sound Shell was erected. This was more versatile than the old Band Rotunda and was used for many events from December to February each year. A band played every Sunday afternoon. Popular Christmas and New Year’s events were also held  during the 1950's and 1960's.

The idea of a Sound Shell in the Botanic Garden was suggested by the Wellington Bands Association as a memorial to bandsmen who had died during the Two World Wars. The Bands Association offered to finance the Sound Shell pound for pound with the City Corporation, with the hope that it would be erected in time for the Royal Visit of 1949. They also proposed a design for the building.  The proposal was rejected by the Ministry of Works.  However, the City Corporation was still interested in constructing the Sound Shell, so reworked the design and called for tenders in 1951. However, no tenders were offered, despite three attempts. Several months later two tenders were received, but were considered too high by the City Engineer, being £1659 in excess of his estimate. Eventually, the Wellington City Council decided to go ahead with the construction  by using the labour of carpenters on a cooperative basis. The cost  was not to exceed £4000, with the Bands Association contributing £1200 and Council the remainder.  By using cooperative labour, the Sound Shell finally cost £3245.

Original Band Rotunda    built 1907, used to 1953. c 1926.  Replaced  by the present structure

Designed by R.A.E. Osten and S.E. Gurney, it was opened on 5 December 1953, but with  some controversy. The Wellington Bands Association hoped to participate in the opening  and unveil a plaque to ‘Wellington bandsmen who lost their lives in both World Wars’. However, the Council was deemed ‘lackadaisical’ in inviting band members to the event, and as a consequence many bands were already booked and unable to play at the opening of their Memorial Sound Shell.  The dispute was headline news,  however the opening was still attended by a good-sized crowd. It was used during the Royal Visit of early 1954. Its popularity continued with an open-air dance which attracted 8000 people in January 1954. Musical expert, Lt. Col. F. Vivian Dunn, commented that the Sound Shell ‘and natural amphitheatre in front of it are assets with tremendous potentialities’.

Christmas and New Year dances were huge events held on the Sound Shell Lawn during the 1950's and 1960's attended by thousands of people. The character of these events changed however during the late 1960's and early 1970's when passive listening to pop bands was replaced by more active participation. There also developed over this later period more aggressive anti-social audiences spiced with alcohol who provided their own sort of action if the show was a bit slow. This development came to a climax during the summer of 1972-73. During a dance held in the Garden between Christmas and New Year staff on duty were attacked. The Supervisor received a black eye and other members were pushed down banks or were targets for bottle throwing. Groups of marauding youths between the ages of thirteen and fifteen kept the action up throughout the evening. This event proved to be a mild rehearsal for the full dress performance that took place at the New Year dance held outside at the Civic Center. The crowd rioted, overturning a black maria, breaking windows in the Town Hall, and leaving the surrounding car parks buried under a layer of broken bottles. As a result of this the Botanic Garden staff declined  overseeing these acts of public entertainment and over the next two years the police manned the summer dances at the Sound Shell.

Garden of Remembrance

Remembrance Ridge
World War 1 100th Anniversary Poppy Field 2015 (below)
As part of the 100th year anniversary, this battlefield display has been established on the site of the original Peace Garden on Remembrance Ridge.

During the late 1950's the ridge above the Rose Garden and Begonia House, now occupied by the Garden of Remembrance,  was developed This is part of a route linking the drive from the Cable Car to the weather office with the Herb Garden and zig zag down to the Rose Garden. The development of the Garden of Remembrance dates back to 1949 when the Citizens' War Memorial Committee initiated a competition and invited registered architects to design a plan for a garden to honour the fallen in two world wars.  The project was made possible by public donations, and a bequest of £1,313 ($2,626) from Miss M Rowland.  The scheme plan can be viewed at ../peace1949rembrance%20gardenplan.html. Unfortunately the winning design, which included a sunken garden, was too expensive, estimated to cost  £10,000 - some $650,000 in 2014 dollars.  and the project lapsed until 1958.  When the garden was finally built it was quite different to the original proposal, and modest in terms of cost and elaboration.  Hutt, who originated the plan, made the most of the existing resources of the site.  Gorse, broom, and the remnants of kanuka scrub were cleared.  Some of the old pines were cut down and their stumps removed by blasting. The old conifers dating from the days of the Board, many of them species and varieties of chamaecypais, were retained, and used as the main features of the new garden.  They now ornament lawns on two levels divided by a paved terrace backed by a wall of glazed bricks.  A path crosses the length of the upper lawn to the terrace, and brick walling edges the Garden along the boundary drive.  From the upper lawn a lookout gives a view over the north western part of the city although the view is now obscured by tree growth.  In 1959 and 1960 extensive plantings of shrubs were added.  Most of these have not survived partly owing to encroaching shade trees, but more to the difficulty of providing the area with adequate maintenance and water over the summer months.  The strength of this garden lies in the simplicity of its basic elements, all of them tried and tested in surviving the environmental extremes of life on an exposed Wellington ridge.

Erica Gardens

The problems of sustaining specialised, labour intensive, gardens of shrubs in these difficult areas is illustrated by the Erica Garden.  This was just down the path from the Garden of Remembrance on the slopes of Druid Hill.  The site occupied by this garden resulted from the Wahine Storm.  in 1968 Some of the trees came down leaving an open southeasterly facing slope.  After the storm and the clearance, the Curator planned a series of horticultural plantings that would also stand as individual collections. The Erica Garden was one of these From the beginning it suffered from the environmental extremes of the Wellington climate, made worse by the lack of a water supply.  Though this was provided in the late 1970's its arrival coincided with ceilings being placed on permanent staff.  The lack of enough qualified staff combined with the secondary importance of the Erica Garden to the more established areas of the Botanic Garden, led to it being abandoned.  Above all it was a victim of the environmental pressures that go with gardening on exposed clay ridges in Wellington.


An example of these pressures occurred over the winter and summer of 1974-75.  The winter had been warm and damp, no heavy rain, just slight misty drizzle.  Prumngs from the callunas left on the ground sprouted roots where they lay. There were a lot of ericas planted out that season, most of them a bit too young perhaps, but they were putting on massive growth because of the mild moist weather.  Then on  the sky cleared and the moisture vanished.  There followed almost three months of cloudless weather with temperatures rising into the 30's.  Fires became an urgent problem throughout the reserves.  The entire staff at the Parks Department were mobilised to cope with this emergency.  Round the clock watches were established to make sure that old fires did not start up again, and new fires were reported as soon as possible.  For about six weeks the Botanic Garden had to make do with a skeleton staff and there weie severe water restrictions.  There was no water supply to the Erica Garden at that time, and when the staff turned their attention to this area again, the entire crop of new plantings had been wiped out.  Apart from the time spent during the previous planting season, this also represented the loss of about two years of propagation and growing on in the nursery.  Dry weather combined with wind makes gardening in these situations a challenge, and ultimately the successful gardener is the one who abandons horticultural preconceptions, and works within the dictates of the site.  In public gardening this can be difficult as outside pressures often demand impossible results, which could only be realised by spending large amounts of money on labour and the preparation of the site.  In the early 1970s the Head Gardener Donal Duthie instituted the piactice of mulching on a large scale.  Tons of mushroom compost, and cocoa bean husks from Griffins were brought in at fortnightly intervals.  This revolutionised gardening on the clay soils and exposed ridges of the Botanic Garden, as well as almost abolishing weeding in some areas

In 1985 ericas were planted in the more level, sheltered positions on each side of the upper entrance to the Camellia Garden, which is adjacent to the site ol the abandoned Erica Garden.  Here they benefited from the seasonal application of mulch, in this case shredded wood and bark fragments.

Access routes

The Garden of Remembrance typifies the development under Hutt where access routes followed the ridges.  These were opened up as a series of spaces, often with different horticultural contents, contrasting with the bushed and wooded valleys below them, over which may be viewed other parts of the Garden or the city beyond.  The site of the Herb Garden on the western ridge above the Rose Garden is another such development.  This ridge is a remnant from the filling of Anderson Park and its extension now occupied by the Rose Garden.  The present path along it was put in by Ian Galloway after 1947 when the building of the foreman's house blocked the original access.  In 1961 this path was connected to the Rose Garden by the zig zag built down the eastern face of the ridge.  At the same time, at its northern end a lookout was built identical in design to that in the Garden of Remembrance.

The directors, keepers, managers, curators of the garden in order of appointment
Their titles have changed over the years