Friday, 12 July 2013

Dunedin Botanical Garden celebrating 150 years

The first botanic garden in New Zealand was established in Dunedin 150 years ago, and there are events taking place in the city to mark the occasion.  One such event is a photographic exhibition that will run August through to November, and will be held at the Dunedin Public Library.

The Botanic gardens are more than important to Dunedin however. In 2010 they were ranked as a Garden of International Significance by the New Zealand Gardens Trust, a ranking aimed at attracting overseas visitors. They are the only public garden on the list, although neighbouring Larnach Castle also has an international ranking.

Ref: 35-R426, Botanical Gardens, Dunedin, 1917, Sir George Grey Special Collections
Ref: 35-R421, Dunedin Botanical Gardens, 1917, Sir George Grey Special Collections
Interestingly, the site where the Botanic gardens now sit is not the original site. A flood only a few years after the opening was so severe, the garden was relocated to the current site in Opoho Street. Many trees and shrubs were moved, including a Royal Oak that had been planted to mark the wedding of the Prince and Princess of Wales in 1863. Wonderfully, that oak is still thriving today, while the former site is now home to Otago University.

Ref: 35-R422, Looking towards the band rotunda at the Dunedin Botanical Gardens, 1917, Sir George Grey Special Collections
In Auckland Libraries, we have our own very charming selection of photographs of the Dunedin gardens, accessible on our digital library under Heritage Images. In particular, note the black and white photographs of the garden that Frederick Radcliffe took in the 1920s. Radcliffe was a prolific early New Zealand photographer who travelled extensively throughout New Zealand for over two decades taking thousands of photographs for his postcard business.  

Author: Joanne Graves, Central Auckland Research Centre

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