The Life of a Mid Canterbury Tree

In Ashburton, New Zealand, visitors can explore the 1.8ha Winchmore Gardens and mingle with trees well over 140 years old. If only the trees could talk.

The life of a Mid Canterbury tree is symbolic of the countryside itself, marked by change as well as the charm of country life:

-          The children – Winchmore trees have provided a natural playground for children over many generations.

-          The birdlife- Winchmore trees provide a canopy for a diverse community of nesting birds - they turn the Gardens into a place full of pleasant noise and song.

-          The Plains – With sweeping winds and spectacular nor’westers, the patchwork Canterbury Plains were once treeless. Today’s trees rose to the challenges of the arid environment, relying on water drawn from a well up to 100 metres away.

-          Winchmore Gardens were once the home of Robert Park, renowned surveyor who mapped out Ashburton and the surrounding high country, as well as many other parts of New Zealand.

-          The trees have seen three houses on the same site – and so many guests enjoying the gardens.

-          Wellingtonia, or Sierra Redwoods (Sequoiadendron Giganteum), are amongst the residents at Winchmore Gardens. They are the world's largest trees in terms of total volume,  growing to an average height of 50–85 metres and 6–8 metres in diameter.

-          At any given time, a large tree of this species may be expected to have approximately 11,000 cones.

Winchmore Gardens is a 1.8ha country garden, set amongst 5ha of original homestead trees, and developed where the original Winchmore Estate Homestead was built prior to 1870. These original trees, planted after the estate lease was taken up in 1853, on the treeless Mid-Canterbury Plains, were planted to resemble the landlord’s home in London and include many oaks, Wellingtonia and poplar.

The Gardens of today have been developed over the past 50 years to enhance these great old trees. Cuttings have been taken to extend the original buxus hedging along the winding drive, to encompass these many plantings.

From the first sightings of hellibores and snowdrops in late winter, then the colour of spring bulbs, camellias, and rhododendrons mingling with the scents and sights of blossoms, irises, peonies, azaleas, the birsting leaves of maples, perennials hostas and rose, through to the autumn flowers and changing shades of colour, Winchmore Gardens has something of interest for all garden lovers.

Seating throughout the garden, together with the manicured lawns, makes this peaceful garden an ideal spot for picnics. Visitors are encourage to take time to enjoy the many varied plantings, and ponder the beauty of the gardens and trees, many of which have lasted the test of time, in what must have originally been a very harsh environment.

Open by appointment only. No dogs please and Children must be supervised. Toilet available.

There are so many ways to Experience Mid Canterbury - fantastic places to stay and people to meet.

It’s easy to book accommodation and plan your visit – find Mid Canterbury visitor information here.




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