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Thursday, December 6, 2012

Guided tours of Government House grounds on Love Your Mountain Day

Clint Jensen and NZSL interpreter
Ginette Rawlinson
Today we had a private guided tour of Government House grounds in preparation for the NZSL-interpreted free public tour at 10:30am on Love Your Mountain Day. 

Head gardener Clint Jensen showed us around the landscaped garden developed over a period of 45 years by Sir Frank and Lady Mappin and gifted to the Crown in 1966.

Among the many notable trees in the garden is a very special tecomanthe speciosa. Native to the Three Kings Islands, the species was almost wiped out by goats until the chance discovery in 1945 of one solitary plant which still exists on the island.

Two plants were propagated from this one remaining plant in the wild. One was sent to the former DSIR, and it is the source of the tecomanthe plants now widely available in garden centres, Clint told us. The other cutting was entrusted to the Mappins, a testament to their horticultural knowledge and experience.

The tecomanthe specimen propagated from the sole survivor on the Three Kings Islands is still thriving in the grounds of Government House, carefully tended as the Mappins wished when they gave their garden to the Crown.

On Love Your Mountain Day, you can visit and learn more about the garden, its history and plants, and its lava-flow forest which is a designated ecologically significant area, one of only three pockets of lava-flow forest remaining in Auckland. 

Tours leave from our information table at the Pavilion inside the grounds at 10:30am (signed) and 2:30pm (not signed). A tour of Withiel Thomas reserve, another lava-flow forest pocket, starts at 12:30pm. It is led by Sel Arbuckle, a highly knowledgeable volunteer who has weeded and looked after the reserve for over 15 years.

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