Henry assumed responsibility for organising the garden; trees and shrubs were planted and a large vegetable garden. A substantial glasshouse was later attached to the house. Local Maori assisted him in maintain the garden and lawns. Only a few signs remain today of the original plantings.
The extensive grounds are of historic interest as they contain plantings dating from the time Henry and Marianne lived there. The property of around 1.5 ha had native trees on it when the house was built, including few large totara. He planted many fruit and nut trees, of which surviving specimens include the Poorman’s Orange (a sweet grapefruit), and possibly the pear and walnut trees near the Western boundary as he created an orchard in that area. A wisteria, a row of cypresses, black poplar, magnolia, and a tulip tree, may also have been among Henry’s plantings.
There are numerous records about Henry’s work in the garden, digging and planting; he reports one day on planting seven different types of cabbages. A set of photos taken in 1866 show a glasshouse (which no longer exists), workmen scything the grass to maintain a rough lawn and the elderly couple in the garden with family and visitors. The relationship between house and church was of great importance to Henry and Marianne who planted a linking avenue of oak trees. Although the avenue is now severed by the main road, the few oaks remaining from the mid-19th Century still provide dramatic landmarks for both properties.
The Trust is fortunate that the main tenants from 1950 onwards cherished and continued to develop the garden. Major plantings by the Poore family include an American scarlet oak and a beech tree – both now of a notable size. The persimmon by the house is also exceptional. Other plantings by them and their successors include magnolias, rhododendrons, camellias and a gingko. A stream running parallel to the Eastern boundary and first used as a basic water supply for the house was dammed in the mid-20th Century to form an artificial lake to the North. Recent plantings of olive trees, standard roses and buxus hedges reflect early 21st Century trends.
The property has recently been surveyed and a garden plan developed by Geoff Pickles, architect and current tenant. He and his wife bring a new vision and formidable work ethic to the development of the grounds. An important new feature is a garden pavilion echoing the shape of the house and containing Henry’s original tombstone. The trustees believe that the garden, with its layers of historic planting, is a major asset worth developing. With its large trees, water feature and farming landscape, the garden already provides an appropriately lovely setting to the elegant 19th century house.
Photos of the Garden
EASTERN LAWN EDGE
The Garden Pavilion
Containing Henry Williams’ original gravestone and the original plaques from the Williams Memorial at St Paul's in Paihia. The gravestone and the plaques were replaced at their original sites by facsimiles, as the originals had suffered weathering of the stone. The pavilion was designed by G. Pickles, and built through the generosity of a family member. The Ministry of Culture and Heritage assisted with the moving and re-siting of the gravestone.
Exciting future projects in the garden include: a Productive garden (vegetables/herbs) on the eastern lawn to complement the orchard, a Wilderness/Wildflower meadow between the orchard and creek where the horse chestnuts are growing, a Stumpery along the stream edges and where a pile of existing logs and stumps have been collected, and a proper Wetland area on the northeast boundary where the creek flows into the pond.
We look forward to posting progress photos of each of these areas as they begin to be developed.
Research and writing by John R H Andrews, photos by Camilla Hope-Simcock.