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Illustrated Guide to Christchurch and Neighbourhood

Mr. Abbott's Nursery

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.