The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 12, Issue 3 (June 1, 1937)
Beautifying on the Railways — Activities Of The Railway Department. — Trees and Gardens. — Co-operation of Local Bodies and Clubs
Beautifying on the Railways
Activities Of The Railway Department.
Trees and Gardens.
Co-operation of Local Bodies and Clubs.
Very early in the history of the New Zealand Railways the advantages of tree planting and preservation, and the beautification of railway reserves was recognised by the Department, and in 1888 it was operating a tree nursery — actually about ten years before the Government commenced to operate its general forest nurseries.
The advantages of these early efforts in protective and amenity planting are seen to-day, particularly in the South Island, where, between Christchurch and Timaru, there are over 40 plantations on a total area of 450 acres and containing 158,000 trees. The plantations at Rolleston, Hinds, Winchester and Temuka are recognised as definitely improving the landscape.
In the North Island the railway plantations are less extensive, but some of them, notably at Papakura and Rotorua, and in various localities along the line in the Waikato district, provide a very attractive setting for the stations at which they are planted.
In 1903 the occupiers of Railway houses were circularised regarding the necessity for protecting trees planted around stations and on the land adjacent to these houses, and they were also advised as to the advantages of cultivating gardens on the house properties.
It has also been a practice of the Railway Department for many years to welcome the co-operation of Local Bodies, Beautifying Societies and others interested in improving the aesthetic appeal of their particular localities, in utilising any spare land belonging to the Department for beautification and general amenity purposes. Besides the various Beautifying Societies and Associations who have taken an active part in this valuable work, and the local Borough and Town Councils which have regarded this cooperation as part of their civic duty, various other interested groups and individuals have assisted with fine enthusiasm in making the precincts of railway premises more pleasing to residents and visitors. At some places groups of settlers have combined in this work, at others Girl Guides and School Teachers, and in every instance the Railway Department has appreciated this assistance and provided, where required, soil, fencing and other material, and labour in the preparation of areas for the improvements desired.
The result of this policy is that at very many places in the Dominion are to be found splendidly kept reserves, either at stations or in the near vicinity, which serve to improve greatly the environment of stations and which are a credit to all concerned in their care and preparation.
Friendly Rivalry in Beautification.
In Canterbury, Otago and Southland, there are Ladies' Clubs interested in beautifying their localities and districts, whose members devote much time and care to the beautification of railway premises. The Railway Department associates itself with their work, and station garden competitions are held annually when cups are awarded to the winning stations. The railway staff at the various stations are keenly interested in this friendly rivalry and work enthusiastically and with much skill, knowledge and judgment to make the best possible use of the areas at their disposal.
The result of all these efforts in co-operation for beautifying purposes page 42page 43
The public response may be judged by the following typical comments:–The Mayor of Hawera (Mr. J. E. Campbell) wrote in July of last year: “Our citizens are as proud of the gardens as your own Department is.”
From another correspondent:—“I am an old lady, very fond of flowers, and I send these words of appreciation.”
At many stations individual tablet porters and others have found pleasure in beautifying the immediate surroundings of their stations, by gardens, lawns, and other decorative efforts, while many railway houses are notable for their finely-kept gardens and well-tended orchards.
The new stations at Auckland and Wellington gave the Department an opportunity for expressing the value it places on aesthetic considerations not only in the design of the buildings but also in their setting. At Auckland station the Railway gardens are recognised to be a valuable asset both to the Railways and the City, and a large area of valuable land was specially provided to enable this effect to be produced. There the Department employs regularly a skilled gardener, and it has nurseries for flowers and plants on the roof of the Auckland station.
At some railway centres, e.g., Otahuhu and Hillside, the railway staff run their own flower shows very successfully, and they sometimes have garden circles, with regular advice from professional gardeners, the results of whose efforts have been the subject of frequent favourable comment both by visitors and in the newspapers.
On many occasions photographs of railway gardens in various localities have been featured in the press of the Dominion and also in overseas publications.
At the Wellington new station a very large area has been provided by the Department in front of the station and is now being prepared with the best available professional skill for lawns and gardens.
On the station roof there is to be a glass house to provide a nursery for young trees. Provision is also being made for considerable beautification along the route of the Tawa Flat deviation.
When new lines are built (as in the case of the Waterloo line) reserves are set aside for beautification purposes and this feature will also have attention along the routes of lines at present under construction.
When circumstances warrant, subsidies are granted to Societies who have helped in beautifying railway reserves, and free railage for requisites as well as shrubs and trees for planting are provided by the Department where desirable.
Among stations where railway reserves and premises have been improved by the co-operation of local interests and the railway staff may be mentioned: Port Chalmers, Balclutha, Burnside, Mosgiel, Stirling, Sawyer's Bay, Dunedin, Timaru, Winton, Lumsden, Palmerston, Waikari, Fairlie, the Lyttelton Line, Little River, Dunsandel, Papanui, Rangiora, Rakaia, Heathcote, Picton, Hawera, Otaki, Lower Hutt, Port Ahuriri, Te Awamutu, Morrinsville, Hangatiki, Tahora, Kiwitahi, Kaiwaka, Whangarei, Hamilton, Manurewa, Otahuhu, Penrose, Sylvia Park, Katikati, Puha, Leeston and Southbrook.
Preservation of Native Flora.
The Railway Department does whatever is possible to preserve the native flora on lands under its control. It will not sanction the cutting of trees except in cases of necessity, and all members of the Department are instructed not to remove native plants or greenery from railway reserve or other Crown land for decorative purposes.
Some time ago the Department appointed a highly qualified Forestry Officer to care for its forest property, its groves and plantations, and he is applying to his work the principles of aesthetic forestry, especially in the selection of appropriate trees for planting in settings which will help to add aesthetic value to the relations between railway premises and the cities or the countryside they serve.
At present the Department operates two nurseries which contain approximately three million trees, mainly eucalypts. These will be planted in various parts of the country, but mainly on a consolidated area near Waihi.page 44 page 45
Here there was last year planted and sown some 230 acres in various species, mainly eucalypts, and in addition near the main Waihi-Tauranga highway, a two-mile strip of Red Flowering Gum with an outside line of pohutukawas, the object being to obtain bright colour for a considerable part of the year, the two species supplementing each other.
The plans for the coming winter include the planting of the greater part of three thousand acres, near Waihi, together with small areas in various other localities.
“You'd hardly believe,” he said to the Chum who'd dropped in, “how pernickety some men are when buying a pipe. A bloke blew in yesterday who priced all my choicest briars and ended up by buying a ninepenny Cherrywood.” The other chap laughed. “Good job,” he said, “smokers aren't like that when it comes to tobacco. Generally smoke same old brand?” “That's right, one of my regulars has been smoking same brand for 25 years.” “What's his fancy?” “Same as your's—Cut Plug No. 10.” The caller nodded, “I sure freeze on a good thing when I strike it; what's the other toasted brands, again?” “Navy Cut No. 3 (Bulldog), Cavendish, Riverhead Gold, and Desert, Gold: When I open a case of tins it's empty in no time. Smokers can't resist toasted.” “True, O King!—I know I can't!” “Yes, toasted has a lot to recommend it,” said the tobacconist, “being toasted it's practically without nicotine, the flavour's O.K., and it has a bosker bouquet.” “You've said it,” laughed his pal, and with a “Cheerio,” he went his way.
The present condition of the railway plantations is perhaps the best indication of the attitude of the Department and its servants towards trees. The trees have been carefully guarded, and such plantations as at Papakura, Rotorua and Rollestion are amongst the best existing samples of early plantations.