Editorial Introduction

James Beattie I have just dug over the vegetable garden for the first time since Winter’s arrival. Abundant crops of lemons and mandarins ripen nicely on our citrus trees. The weather, although frosty, has been bright and clear. And I am eyeing up our hedge for cutting. With my thoughts at last turning to the garden again, it is entirely appropriate, I think, that this year’s issue begins with a review article by Walter Cook of Janet Waymark’s book on the British garden designer and town planner, Thomas Mawson. Mawson was responsible for many designs throughout Britain, Europe and Canada and incidentally, had a New Zealand link, one of his sons, John (1886-1966) having shifted to New Zealand in 1928 to become Director of Town Planning.[1] Two other book reviews appear in this issue: Paul Star considers John Andrews’ new book, No Other Home Than This: A History of European New Zealanders, an environmental history of Pākehā relationship with Aotearoa that begins deep in pre-history and moves to the present. I review Christopher Johnstone’s sumptuous new book on the presentation of the New Zealand garden in art. The first of a new section appears in this issue too: an introduction to a garden or discussion of a resource pertinent to New Zealand nature. Geoff Doube and Peter Sergel introduce readers to two landscape designs in Hamilton Gardens. Catherine Knight overviews an exciting new development in environmental history in New Zealand: envirohistory NZ, a website exploring New Zealand’s environmental history. —————————————- [1] Caroline Miller, ‘A Prophet in a Barren Land: the New Zealand Career of J.W. Mawson’, in The 21st...

REVIEW ARTICLE: Thomas Mawson: Life, Gardens and Landscapes

Janet Waymark, Thomas Mawson: Life, Gardens and Landscapes, Frances Lincoln, London, 2009, pp.240, ISBN-13: 978 0 7112 2595 4 (hbk.). Walter Cook Janet Waymark’s account of Thomas Mawson’s life and work includes copious descriptions and analyses of the gardens, parks, and towns he designed, well supported by plans and photographs. Mawson (Figure 1) was the first English garden designer to call himself “landscape architect,” and as a second string to his business he took up the emerging profession of town planning. In both garden design and town planning he gained a national and international reputation. Thomas Mawson’s early life Janet Waymark’s introduction deals with Mawson’s early life and the state of Britain at the time that he established his nursery business at Windermere in the Lake District in 1885. It is very much a rags to riches story typical of the Victorian period. The lives of architect and garden designer Joseph Paxton and novelist Charles Dickens are obvious examples that spring to mind. So also is the life of one of Mawson’s wealthiest clients and patrons, Andrew Carnegie, the Scottish born, American iron and steel millionaire for whom Scotland remained a second home. Mawson’s father, John, died in 1877 and two years later in 1879, at the age of 16, like Dick Whittington, the largely self-educated Mawson was forced to leave home and seek in London, not only his fortune, but that of two brothers, two sisters, and a mother. This strong sense of family responsibility was combined with ambition, a liberal, protestant work ethic, and that great Victorian virtue of self-help. Family was important to Mawson throughout his...

REVIEW: No Other Home Than This: A History of European New Zealanders

John Andrews, No Other Home Than This: A History of European New Zealanders, Craig Potton Publishing, Nelson, 2009, pp. 364, ISBN: 978 1 877517 082 (hbk.). Paul Star Before his retirement, Professor John Andrews had a distinguished career as a zoologist at Victoria University of Wellington. His book, The Southern Ark, a history of zoological discovery in New Zealand, has had an honoured place on my shelves since its publication in 1986.[1] Over two decades later, here is a volume to place beside it. In this new book, Andrews bravely sets out to ‘describe how one group within this society [New Zealand], the pakeha or New Zealander of European ancestry, has colonised the country and learned something about it, changed it, adapted to it, and developed some affection for it’ (299). He is well aware that, ‘in a country keen to forge its own identity and make amends for its colonial history it has not always been politic to mention the European heritage’ (292). Andrews, however, wades into it. This takes him far away indeed from his home in suburban Auckland, since he begins with the origins of Homo sapiens in Africa. The first three chapters plot the temporal, spatial and cultural journey which led to some of these humans ‘becoming European’; only in part two of the book does Andrews describe the process whereby some of these European humans have landed up ‘becoming pakeha’. Andrews is intrigued that, after their lines of descent diverged near the River Indus about 75,000 years ago, European and Polynesian humans met up in New Zealand in 1642, having both reached these shores...

REVIEW: The Painted Garden in New Zealand Art

Christopher Johnstone, The Painted Garden in New Zealand Art, Godwit, Auckland, 2008, pp. 272, ISBN: 978 1 86962 141 4 (hbk.). James Beattie Christopher Johnstone’s The Painted Garden in New Zealand Art is a beautifully produced book that should appeal to lovers of gardens and garden art the world over. Containing over 100 artworks of New Zealand gardens from early colonial times to the present, The Painted Garden is testimony to the powerful place of garden-making in the New Zealand artistic imagination. An art historian and former Director of the Auckland Art Gallery (1988-1995), Johnstone selected the images for their innate aesthetic appeal as well as for their depiction of identifiable gardens owned by or known to the artist. A useful introduction surveys some of New Zealand’s main (European) garden history themes such as the vogue for the gardenesque, the introduction of exotics, and the initially gendered nature of botanical art, while each of the book’s five main parts is prefaced. Its five parts are organised into the following sections: the Early Artists (1830-1860); Later Nineteenth Century (1860-1890); Early Modern (1890-1940); Modern (1940-1970); Contemporary (1970-2008). A one-page discussion accompanies each image, placing it in its cultural, gardening and art historical setting. This allows Johnstone to guide the viewer through the image’s multiple layers and greatly enriches one’s appreciation of its aesthetic and historical significance. The book’s wide breadth, both temporally and stylistically, means that it provides a visual record of different pictorial traditions and garden styles. Traditional topographical images informed by European picturesque conventions can thus be compared with neo-pointillist garden depictions. Richard Kelly’s draughtsman-like depiction of semi-rural Dunedin...

GARDEN REVIEW: ‘Te Parapara Garden’ and ‘The Indian Char Bagh Garden’, Hamilton Gardens

Peter Sergel & Geoff Doube Introduction First-time visitors to Hamilton Gardens who arrive expecting a collection of plants in a traditional botanic garden will be in for a surprise. Rather than simply focussing on plant collections, at Hamilton Gardens the emphasis is on the gardens themselves. While botanic gardens concentrate on plant taxonomy and classification, Hamilton Gardens concentrates on the cultural meanings and contexts that gardens have historically had. Throughout history, gardens have been a way of expressing the important philosophical ideas of their time, and in many respects the story of gardens corresponds with the story of human thought. There is more to be learnt from gardens than plant names. They can also increase our understanding of the beliefs and values of the people who made them. Hamilton Gardens tells the story of gardens by recreating some of the most historically important garden styles from a wide variety of times and places. The aim of this short article, the first of several, is to explain a little bit about each style of garden and to place each of them in their historical context. Te Parapara Garden While some modified landscapes were valued solely as spiritual sites, it was more common to combine the spiritual aspects of a garden with more practical purposes, for example, that of food production. An outstanding example of this could be found in pre-European times along the banks of the Waikato River, which were important sites of Tainui Māori settlement. The fertile sandy soil ideal suited the cultivation of traditional crops, the most important of which was kumara (Ipomoea batatas). Te Parapara (Figure 1)...

WEBSITE REVIEW: Exploring New Zealand’s environmental history online

Cath Knight In November 2009, with ample support from my tech-wiz husband, I launched envirohistory NZ, a website exploring New Zealand’s environmental history. The idea for the website came from a somewhat surprising source. In August 2009, the Government announced a proposal to build an expressway through my neighbourhood – a newly established “eco-subdivision”. The eco-subdivision incorporates low-density housing, expansive parks, and wetland areas to absorb and filter stormwater. Each home also has rainwater tanks and greywater recycling systems. My husband and I set up a blogsite to inform affected residents of the implications of the expressway proposal and how to effectively participate in the decision-making process, while providing a forum for people to express their feelings about the proposal. We were utterly overwhelmed by the popularity of the site. In only a month, the site went from absolute obscurity to the garnering of 10,000 hits from all over the world. This made me aware of the potential of the so-called “blog,” as a powerful forum to inform, share ideas and network all at once. So when the expressway saga had subsided, rather than returning to leisurely weekends in the garden, I decided to apply this newly discovered tool to a more positive and constructive application – the exploration of our environmental history. I first became attracted to the field of environmental history after completing a masters and a doctoral thesis examining aspects of environmental management and history in Japan. This led me to reflect on New Zealand’s own environmental history and environmental management practices, with the initial presumption that “We must do things a lot better here”. Eric...