For the love of gardening

When the Turanga Lions Club disbanded three years ago, four keen gardeners carried on with a project to beautify Hospital Reserve. Justine Tyerman talks to Ray Gowland about what their labours of love have achieved over 17 years .

When the Turanga Lions Club disbanded three years ago, four keen gardeners carried on with a project to beautify Hospital Reserve. Justine Tyerman talks to Ray Gowland about what their labours of love have achieved over 17 years .

MEN FRIDAY: Martyn Cox, Graham Harris, Paul Gretton at work in the Turanga Gardens. Paul is standing next to one of the kauri trees the men planted.
Ray Gowland at work.
Turanga Gardens -
Turanga Gardens - Ray Gowland
The towering white Sydney Blue Gums (Eucalyptus saligna) that caught the attention of H.B. Williams.
Turanga Gardens -
Turanga Gardens -
Turanga Gardens -

THE Turanga Gardens on Hospital Hill are refreshed and flourishing after recent heavy rain.

“But so are the weeds, so there’s no time to be complacent,” says Ray Gowland whose idea it was, 17 years ago, to create a garden on Hospital Hill for the public to enjoy.

The gardens were originally a Turanga Lions Club community project but when the club wound up three years ago, the stalwarts carried on ... for the love of it.

Ray and his team of Graham Harris, Paul Gretton and Martyn Cox meet every Friday morning to work on the gardens.

All keen gardeners who enjoy the camaraderie of working together, they are often joined by a variety of volunteers.

The gardens, covering about three of the seven hectares of land on Hospital Reserve, are planted mainly in natives with some exotics like rhododendrons, azaleas and camellias.

“We also have five magnificent kauri which are about 20ft high now,” says Ray.

In addition to the planting of some 200 plus trees, Ray and co have built a network of tracks, walkways and terraced walls.

“There were two former sewage tanks that serviced the old isolation ward on the hill,” says Ray.

“One is quite exposed so we built a retaining wall around it that extends all the way down to the bridge over the stream in the bottom of the gully. We’ve never managed to find the other tank,” he says.

The project is funded from donations for labour and materials, and the Gisborne District Council provides some financial assistance.

Once, long ago, Ray took H.B. Williams up to look at the gardens.

“H.B. promptly fell in love with the place, especially the huge white saligna gums that were 80 to 90 years old, stood 20 to 30m high and had enormous trunks.”

Since then, the Williams Trust has supported the gardens over the years and in recognition of their help, the main walkway is named after H.B.’s wife, Elizabeth.

“We’ve also had tremendous support from the Women’s Native Tree Group who have donated 50-70 trees.”

Thanks to Ray’s cousin Kathy Reichenbach and her seed business, they have been able to successfully establish a number of white kakabeak in the gardens, a plant that is officially extinct in the wild.

“The whole area is reticulated with water on tap to five locations from the top of the hill to the bottom so we have only lost a couple of trees due to drought.

“Our next job, now that the rain has come, is weeding and tidying up for planting in the autumn. And we’re also planning to build a waterfall,” says Ray.

The gardens have now got their own Facebook page, thanks to Ray’s son.

“They’ve had about 600 hits since it was established so that’s encouraging,” he says.

“It’s great to have a garden like this so close to the city for everyone to enjoy. And we are so grateful for help from any source, especially extra man and woman-power on Friday mornings. We’re on site from 9am until 12.30pm and welcome all enthusiastic helpers. Just bowl on up — we’d love to see you.”

THE Turanga Gardens on Hospital Hill are refreshed and flourishing after recent heavy rain.

“But so are the weeds, so there’s no time to be complacent,” says Ray Gowland whose idea it was, 17 years ago, to create a garden on Hospital Hill for the public to enjoy.

The gardens were originally a Turanga Lions Club community project but when the club wound up three years ago, the stalwarts carried on ... for the love of it.

Ray and his team of Graham Harris, Paul Gretton and Martyn Cox meet every Friday morning to work on the gardens.

All keen gardeners who enjoy the camaraderie of working together, they are often joined by a variety of volunteers.

The gardens, covering about three of the seven hectares of land on Hospital Reserve, are planted mainly in natives with some exotics like rhododendrons, azaleas and camellias.

“We also have five magnificent kauri which are about 20ft high now,” says Ray.

In addition to the planting of some 200 plus trees, Ray and co have built a network of tracks, walkways and terraced walls.

“There were two former sewage tanks that serviced the old isolation ward on the hill,” says Ray.

“One is quite exposed so we built a retaining wall around it that extends all the way down to the bridge over the stream in the bottom of the gully. We’ve never managed to find the other tank,” he says.

The project is funded from donations for labour and materials, and the Gisborne District Council provides some financial assistance.

Once, long ago, Ray took H.B. Williams up to look at the gardens.

“H.B. promptly fell in love with the place, especially the huge white saligna gums that were 80 to 90 years old, stood 20 to 30m high and had enormous trunks.”

Since then, the Williams Trust has supported the gardens over the years and in recognition of their help, the main walkway is named after H.B.’s wife, Elizabeth.

“We’ve also had tremendous support from the Women’s Native Tree Group who have donated 50-70 trees.”

Thanks to Ray’s cousin Kathy Reichenbach and her seed business, they have been able to successfully establish a number of white kakabeak in the gardens, a plant that is officially extinct in the wild.

“The whole area is reticulated with water on tap to five locations from the top of the hill to the bottom so we have only lost a couple of trees due to drought.

“Our next job, now that the rain has come, is weeding and tidying up for planting in the autumn. And we’re also planning to build a waterfall,” says Ray.

The gardens have now got their own Facebook page, thanks to Ray’s son.

“They’ve had about 600 hits since it was established so that’s encouraging,” he says.

“It’s great to have a garden like this so close to the city for everyone to enjoy. And we are so grateful for help from any source, especially extra man and woman-power on Friday mornings. We’re on site from 9am until 12.30pm and welcome all enthusiastic helpers. Just bowl on up — we’d love to see you.”

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Michaela - 8 months ago
My husband and I have recently found this secret treasure when walking our dog in the area. We love walking through the gardens and think you have all done a wonderful job. Thank you for the work you do.