THE REVEREND MOTHER'S GARDEN.
The Reverend Mother’s Garden was designed as a formal, yet naturally landscaped, entrance to the College by the Senior Mother Superior nuns with architect John Sydney Swan. The cast iron gates and fences and stone wall remnant on Melbourne Road marks the original length of the Reverend Mother’s Garden and offer walking access through the Garden to Erskine.
A quiet, contemplative space, the magnificence of the Garden is emphasised by the mature trees - the large pohutukawa were planted between 1905 and 1915, and the oak tree was planted by Superior General Sister Concepción Camacho in 1972. The Garden featured camellia trees planted by the nuns, and two silver ponga amongst karaka and kawakawa trees. The rengarenga lily, ivy, cape honeysuckle and shining spleenwort are all native remnant survivors from the last period of the Garden’s planting. A wooden ‘armchair’ snug was set into the flowery bank - here, the girls would have ontology classes with Mother Dillion, visits with Reverend Mother Biehler and spend time talking and laughing amongst their friends.
The extensive grounds shown here on Swan’s drawings originally comprised tennis courts, playing fields with three stone-walled terraces, a fishpond, school playground, a vegetable garden and a farmyard area for cows and animals kept to support the privately-run school, and assuage rural girls’ homesickness.