Did you know...

  1. Timaru Botanic Gardens were established in 1864, making it one of the oldest Botanic Gardens in New Zealand.
  2. The Band Rotunda, opened in 1912, was a gift to celebrate the coronation of King George V the preceding year.
  3. The Interpretive Centre was previously a tea kiosk, windows were added later.
  4. During the depression (early 1930s) the council reduced wages and expenditure. Unemployed men were engaged for manual work in, including the digging by hand of improvements to the two duck ponds.
  5. Between 1936 and 1939, 20,000 daffodil bulbs were donated to the gardens.
  6. In 1940, pupils of South School planted 60 trees along the Domain Avenue frontage of the gardens.
  7. A Dawn Redwood was believed to have been extinct for 2 million years until 1941 when 100 trees were discovered in China. Seed from that stand was successfully sent and a resulting tree thrives in the Gardens today.
  8. Deer living within the gardens escaped the grounds, caused damage and endangered staff resulting in them “being destroyed” in 1945.
  9. A Carob tree was planted in 1946 beside the Gloucester Gates. These trees produce seeds that in ancient times were used as weights and formed the basis of the carat weight system used by jewellers today. It is also used as a substitute for chocolate.
  10. A Totara tree was planted near the band rotunda as part of the celebrations of Timaru being declared a city in 1948.
  11. In 1960, The Queen Victoria Garden Fountain, originally located infront of the Timaru District Council Building, was moved to the Gardens to celebrate her jubilee.
  12. The 3pm temperatures on the national news were always low for Timaru due to the weather site being at the Port. After lobbying from locals the news started reporting temperature from a weather station established in these gardens in 1965, giving Timaru the appearance of warming up overnight!
  13. In 1978, the South Canterbury Model Engineering Club built a jetty to launch their model boats.
  14. Established in 1989, Timaru has New Zealand’s largest collection of species roses. Over 60 of the approx. 150 species in existence are present.
  15. In 2005, the Gardens were awarded the Inaugural Heritage Roses Award, noting that the Timaru Species Rose Border was the only public collection of such roses in New Zealand.
  16. In 2006, a major snowstorm (largest since 1946) caused significant damage throughout the Gardens. It flattened many native plants and trees, which split or had limbs broken, including a 60 year old Carob Tree, a Cork Oak and several Gum Trees.
  17. In 2014, a Metrosideros ‘Maungapiko’(a cross between a Pohutakawa and Southern Rata) was planted to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the land being formally gazetted as a public park.
  18. In 2014, the Timaru Botanic Gardens was recognised as a Garden of National Significance by the New Zealand Gardens Trust.
  19. Many plaques and special plants located throughout the gardens recognise family reunions, dedications to people and special anniversaries. Such as planting a memorial tree for the late musician John Lennon in 1980, and planting a tree to celebrate 100 years since the first ascent of Mt Cook in 1994.


Source: From waste land to a garden of national significance: Timaru Botanic Gardens 1864-2014. By Keith Bartholomew