Illustrated Guide to Christchurch and Neighbourhood
Any account of the amusements of Christchurch would be incomplete without some reference to the Horticultural Shows held in the city and in the suburbs. In this matter, as in many others, Christchurch has led the way, the first show having been held when the settlement was only a few months old. Since then they have been pretty regularly opened. For many years the Christchurch Horticultural Society has been in existence, and has done good work in encouraging attention to this most beautiful occupation. The exhibitions held under it have been generally of a high order; and, latterly, have rivalled those to be seen in many English provincial towns of far greater pretensions than ours. As the suburbs have increased, societies have sprung up in them, notably—in Addington, Papanui, and Merivale. Juvenile clubs have also been formed, the Foresters Juvenile in particular having achieved a very fair amount of success. To the influence of these societies Christchurch and page 140its neighbourhood owes its chief beauties, having probably, for its size and age, more gardens—from that of the cottage to those attached to the houses of the richer classes—displaying greater wealth of bloom and colour than any other city in the colony.
Beyond comparison, the grounds of the professional gardeners in and about our city, surpass those to be seen elsewhere in New Zealand as regards size, cultivation, and the quality of the plants. No visitor to Christchurch should fail to inspect them. A brief description of some of them will be interesting to our readers, and we give it below. The Public Gardens, situated in the Park, we have already described.
Mr. Abbott's Nursery.
It is now twenty-four years since Mr. Abbott formed his first nursery in Canterbury. He arrived in Christchurch in 1858, and having set to work within a very few months, is now the oldest nurseryman in the district. He has two grounds, the one situated on the Papanui-road—a conspicuous spot, which the passer-by cannot fail to notice—about 14 acres in extent, 8½ of which is in cultivation; and the other at Shirley Cross, two miles distant, containing nine acres.
One covers, as we have said, 8½ acres, and contain two greenhouses each 50 feet long, and one propagating and hothouse, also 50 feet long, all three heated by means of about 700 feet of hot water piping laid on; a fernery 36 feet long, a dozen or so of skeleton frames for raising young plants in, besides large shrubberies and plantations. The St. Albans creek runs through the grounds, feeding a pond filled with various kinds of water-lilies and other beautiful aquatic plants, of which Mr. Abbott has a large quantity to dispose of.
Entering from the Papanui-road by the double iron gates, the visitor finds himself in a long avenue fifty feet wide, flanked on either side by shrubberies of specimen shrubs and trees, including the Cedrus Deodara, Cryptomeria elegans, Retonospora leptoclada, R. plumosa, R. squarrosa, Libo-cedrus decurrens, Arbutus Croomi, A. Andrachne, A. Canariensis, Picea pinsapo, P. amabilis, P. Nordmaniana, P. cephalonica, P. Webbiana, and other beautiful shrubs, some of them of most exquisite foliage. People wishing to purchase can see for themselves how certain shrubs grow and thrive, and can select those which they think most suitable to their gardens. On the left of this avenue are page 141three large rose beds, divided by broad grass walks, containing many thousand plants of over two hundred varieties, in which Mr. Abbott does a large wholesale trade. There are also several other beds filled with general nursery stock, and one very large bed of fine arbutus plants. On the right are several beds, divided by grass-walks, containing many thousands of beautiful coniferæ and choice hybrid-named rhododendrons, of which there are here shown over one hundred and twenty varieties. As you near the house there are other beds filled with choice kinds of flowering and evergreen shrubs, and herbaceous and flowering plants of all descriptions. Again, turning to the right, are five acres, subdivided by grass and other small walks, into beds filled with all kinds of coniferous, fruit, and forest trees. On the left of the avenue are the greenhouses. In the first one the display of many-coloured bloom is gorgeous. Primula sinensis, cyclamens –including the cyclamen gigantia—camelias, geraniums, cineraria, echeveria (which flowers the whole winter through), tuberous-rooted Begonia, of recent introduction, of which there are great numbers of gorgeous blooming plants; Salvia verchaffelti, which also flowers all through the winter; and Kennedya Baumanii, a recent introduction, flowering very freely, the bloom being tinted a most peculiar shade of red. These are only a few of the plants which are thriving in this greenhouse. The stock is immense, and any visitor with a small purse would need all his philosophy not to indulge, when looking at them, in naughty envy. It should be mentioned that, Mr. Abbott being an enthusiast over ferns, every available space under the stages of the greenhouses is filled with these lovely plants, of which he sends large quantities out of the colony.
The second greenhouse is also rich in colour, and is a sight worth seeing. Heaths and azaleas abound, and the beautiful Daphne Indica odora rubra has several representatives here. There is a very large collection of show and tricolour pelargoniums; the Abutilons, in great variety of colour; the Primula —some double and new colours—and a large stock of young bedding plants coming on, including geraniums, verbenas, calceolaria, lobelia, &c.
The propagating and hot-house is next shown us. Here are tropical ferns in great variety. Among them are to be noticed Adiantum Farleyense, A. Mooreii, A. Peruvianum, A. Concinum, A. magnifica, A. Nobilis, and at least twenty other varieties of this select plant. Ferns and lycopodiums, in baskets, are suspended from the roof. There is a large collection of fine foliage and variegated plants, and a large number of new roses, propagated from importations, received a few page 142weeks since. New pelargoniums, including all the newest and best varieties of Regals, are to be seen; also, about thirty varieties of orchids, and a new introduction here, the Aphelexis Macrantha Purpurea. A new gold fern, Gymnogranum Peruviana, in splendid condition, has several representatives here, and they are perfect gems.
In the propagating pits are immense numbers of varieties of coniferæ and hardy shrubs, variegated pines and cypress. One of these pits contains half a thousand rhododendrons, newly grafted from a large number of varieties very recently imported from England, and which has been a complete success.
The fernery, one of the most beautiful spots in the nursery, is the largest in the district. It is 36 feet long and 12 feet wide, and built of corrugated iron, of which, however, not a vestige can be seen inside, a splendid imitation of the natural habitat of the fern being made with refuse from the pottery works, lightly covered in parts with mould. In this Mr. Abbott has planted his tree and other ferns, and they thrive splendidly. Altogether they include a very large proportion of the entire list of known ferns, and the visitor has here the treat of seeing the most complete collection of varieties of exotics and others to be found in this colony, Mr. Abbott having had collectors at work for him, for some time past, in several parts of the colonies. They include Leptopteres superba, Onychicum Japonicum, Todea Africana, Seolapendrum (many varieties), and several are his own seedlings; the Adiantum cuneatum, A. gracilimum, A. formosum, A. pedatum, A. fulvum, A. hispidulum, the old English maidenhair (capelus venerus), Gleichenia flabelata, G. Cunniughami, G. dicarpa, G. Circinata, Marattia fraxinea, M. Salicena (these two last from the Rotomahana, Hot Springs), Lastrea felix mas Cristata, and a Nephrodium molle corymbiferum.
At the back of the house, on the east side of the creek, the ground is covered with flowering shrubs, rhododendrons, lauristinas, carnations, and picotees, of which there is an immense collection, and some skeleton frames for raising young conifers, &c. The Shirley Cross Nursery, covering, as we have said, a space of niue acres, is devoted to general nursery stock, including many thousands of fruit trees. There are over a hundred varieties of apples—a great many thousands in all—and all grafted on the blight-proof stock.
Messrs. Adams & Son's Nursery.
About 300 yards beyond the East Town Belt, in Gloucester-street, is situated this establishment, which was started ten years back for the purpose of acclimatising bulbs and growing flower seeds. During that period the work has been steadily prosecuted until, at the present date, some 1500 varieties of bulbs have been imported and successfully acclimatised to the soil and climate of New, Zealand. Indeed, looking at the catalogue issued by the firm, the day is not far distant when the list of bulbs will rival those issued by the leading firms in England. Special attention has been devoted to the Hyacinth, and in addition to the best varieties from Holland, a large stock has been grown from the seed, and these bulbs may be fairly considered as New Zealand Hyacinths. They are superior to the Dutch sorts in, intensity and variety of colour, and, as may be expected, in vigour of growth. The collection of lilies is very complete, and comprises some of the rarer varieties from California and Japan. Ixias, Gladiolus, Anemones, Narcisscis, Tulips, Crocus, Snowdrops, Iris, and Pæonias, are grown by the thousand, and can now be obtained, fit for blooming the first season, at moderate prices, without the risk of importation and the tedious process of acclimatisation.
The growth and harvesting of florists' flower seeds is a part of the business to which a considerable amount of care has been devoted. By starting with the best strains procurable from England and the Continent, a superior class of seed has been secured, which will produce flowers of equal merit to the latest varieties in England, and free from the unreliability which must always attend the imported article. There is also a growing foreign trade done in native seeds, which are collected every season by expeditions organised for the purpose. The seeds are neatly made up in collections, accurately named, and form Acceptable presents to friends at Home.
Hardy flowers are also extensively grown, and the list of hardy perennials is very extensive. All the principal groups are well represented in healthy specimens of Delpheneum, Hepatica, Saxifrage, Panstemon, Convallaria, Agapanthus, Tradescantia, Spiræa, Hilleborus, Anemone, Lychuis, and Antrietia.
Many greenhouse plants of the latest and most approved kinds, of Fuchsias, Calceolarias, Cinerarias, and Cyclamen; stone plants, comprising Poinsettias, Gardenias, Dipladenias, Gloxinias, Begonias, Dracœnas, Adamandas, Lapagerius, Stephanotis, and Orchids; in fact, it is difficult to say what cannot be obtained either in bulb, seed, or plants, at the omnium gatherum of this establishment.page 144
Ferns, both native and exotic, are to be found here in great numbers and variety. The indigenous sorts are, as may be supposed, in great demand in England, and extensive shipments are made in the season.
Since the direct steamers have commenced running, an export trade in native plants has also sprung up, and the firm have sent expeditions to the Southern Alps to collect the Alpines and other varities, which are afterwards established in pots and. shipped to London.
Mr. J. W. Leigh's Nursery.
Zion Nursery, as Mr. Leigh's place is named, is situated on the Shakespeare-road, Sydenham, near Wilson's road. It is two acres and a half in extent, and is one of those of our gardens which a visitor will find well worth inspection. Mr. Leigh, who has been about sixteen years gardening in this part of the colony, and been about ten years on his present grounds, has had a long experience in his profession, and has therefore gained an intimate knowledge of the effects of our climate upon various kinds of plants, &c. This knowledge has enabled him to select his stock from kinds and sorts which have been acclimatised here, or which are likely to thrive here. The importance of this is well known to professional gardeners, and has been learnt at considerable cost by many amateurs, who have imported new varieties, or new seeds, from Europe, America, or elsewhere. Mr. Leigh's collection of coniferæ, hardy, and other, is very large and well assorted. Of ornamental trees and shrubs, he has also a considerable stock, while his collection of flowering and herbaceous plants should be seen by anyone wishing to stock a garden or a greenhouse. One specialty of Mr. Leigh's is his collection of camelias, all grafted, of which he has above seventy named specimens; another, is his roses. Hedge plants, edging plants, culinary roots, herbs, grape vines, and fruit bushes; canes and trees are also to be seen in his nursery in considerable variety. At the time of our visit he had a large number of apple-trees, which all had to be delivered in Sydney under a heavy penalty for the loss of even one. We must not omit to notice Mr. Leigh's greenhouses and hot-houses, four in number, 60 feet long by 12 feet wide, the very perfection of useful glass, without a yard of unprofitable space. Indeed, the whole grounds bear evidence of being arranged and worked for use, and not show, in a thoroughly workmanlike manner.
Mr. Leigh will at any time be happy to show visitors over his place, which will, as we have said, well repay the trouble.