Friday, 6 December 2013


The final leg of my time in New Zealand has brought me to Dunedin, and what a brilliant time I had here! I must firstly thank Fran Rawling for all her kind hospitality and work that she has done in preparation for my visit.

My story starts in Wylde Willow Garden (this is Fran's garden) which is 5 acres of woodland walks, native plantings, heritage roses, parkland and pond. It is quite astonishing what has been created here. The site was bare paddock when Fran and Mike first moved in and now it has been formed into one of New Zealand's horticultural gems.

For those of you who don't know, Fran is the immediate past president of Heritage Roses of New Zealand and has created this garden entirely by herself. Her husband Mike will back that up and his only job is to do the chainsaw work and mowing of the long grass, everything else is and always has been done by the lady of the house.

The garden is open to be viewed but prior booking is essential as it's very much a private garden, I have to say that I would highly recommend speaking to Fran and seek a look around as it's well worth it.

The beautiful cottage garden feel to the planting around the house really appealed to me and as many of the plants and planting schemes are shared with us back in England it felt like a home from home for me.

Dunedin Northern Cemetery

This South Island City is home to the Northern Cemetery which opened its doors (....or ground) in 1872 and was originally designed as a Victorian garden cemetery. It covers an impressive 20 acres and is the final resting place of approximately 17,700 people with the last plot being purchased in 1937.

Around the year 2000 Heritage Roses of Otago started a project to plant old fashioned roses here, this is because there were already hundreds of old roses on the site. Unfortunately they weren't being cared for as in many cases there was no family to come and tend to the plots anymore. So HRO struck up a deal with the council - they would take care of the existing roses as well as plant new ones so long as the council stopped spraying them with herbicide. The cemetery was once again transformed into a stunning garden environment.

In a lot of cases the original roses which by now would be well over 100 years old were still just about clinging on to life in the family plots where they planted in memory of a passed love one. A red rose at the head of the plot signified that a male buried there and a white or pale rose signified a female or infant.

'General Gallieni' in memory of Alexander Carson

Scots 'Double Cream' in memory of Mary Anne Harris

'Perle D'Or' in memory of the Rolfe family

The whole place was a riot of colour while I was there and it was breath taking, I think what the guys at HRO have done here is wonderful, not just the planting of new plants but the care and attention given to the existing roses as well. I should mention that they do this as volunteers! if you are ever near Dunedin then I insist you pay a visit to the Northern Cemetery.



  1. Wow! What a way to say "farewell" to NZ! Both of these gardens look fantastic! 'Wylde Willows' must have seemed like a home-from-home to you, Jonny, while the Northern Cemetary looked like a rosarian's living dream! What a beautiful way to celebrate a loved one's passing by planting a rose in his or her memory, for generations to enjoy! Congrats to all of you dedicated volunteers for creating such a beautiful stepping-stone to Heaven!
    Safe journeying, Jonny. Can't wait to see what Cali has to offer!

  2. The Cemetery is truly astonishing Jonny. I have been trying to imagine all the beautiful scents and perfumes . It is so well tended - a true labour of love - awesome.
    Enjoy the next leg of your trip. Liz