The Greenhill gardens were designed by Alfred Buxton (1872 - 1950) a famous colonial landscape gardener from Christchurch. The garden features a notable pergola and a long landscaped drive both of which were evident as a signature in many Buxton landscapes.
The great mature trees not only embellish the garden but also frame the house in a pleasing way. There are 6 notable trees listed under the register of New Zealand trees trust
Copyright © New Zealand Notable Trees Trust 2009
This book lists Greenhill as one of the most important gardens to be preserved on a list of NZ gardens.
The company landscaped urban and rural properties throughout the South Island, mainly on the east coast, and at various locations in the lower half of the North Island. Its clients were predominantly members of the rural élite, particularly stud farmers, who had been attracted by the company's promotional exhibitions at agricultural and pastoral shows. The First World War period was one of pastoral affluence and a Buxton landscape became a symbol of that affluence. Prominent sites included Achray, Rotherham; Greenhill, south of Bridge Pa; and Panikau, north of Gisborne.
Buxton was the most significant landscape gardener in New Zealand in the first half of the twentieth century. His publications included A. W. Buxton and Sons' descriptive catalogues and six articles on landscaping in the first issues of New Zealand Gardening (1931–32). He was a member of the New Zealand Association of Nurserymen from 1914 to 1927 and of its successor, the New Zealand Horticultural Trades Association, from 1927 to 1950. At different times he served as president, vice president and on various committees in these organisations. His professional prominence was as an entrepreneur who caused landscape work to be adopted more widely throughout the community.
A short, snappily dressed man, Alfred Buxton had a military bearing and a rather brusque manner. He was innovative and strove for perfection in landscape design, even if it cost him money. The gardens and parks he created are his lasting memorial.
Alfred William Buxton was born on 17 September 1872 at Hanley, Staffordshire, England, the son of Ann Johnson, a painter of pottery, and her husband, Alfred Buxton, a labourer. The family arrived in New Zealand probably in 1886. Young Alfred was immediately apprenticed to Thomas Abbott, Canterbury's leading nurseryman. On 19 March 1895 he married Emily Ann Brown at the Wesleyan Church, Papanui Road, Christchurch.
During his career Buxton was to acquire three principal nurseries. The first, initially one acre on Springfield Road, was bought in 1893; a second, Opawa Nursery, in stages after 1902 in partnership with a Christchurch businessman, J. A. Pannett; and a third, Belfast Nurseries, in 1923. The Opawa and Belfast nurseries were 18 and 38 acres respectively. Buxton and Pannett formed a private company, A. W. Buxton Limited, landscape gardeners, nursery gardeners and asphalters, with Buxton holding two-thirds of the initial share capital.
The gardens at Greenhill were set out around 1919 and some images below show the original layout which is mostly retained in its original form today.
Reference; Colonial landscape gardener : Alfred Buxton of Christchurch, New Zealand, 1872-1950 – Author Rupert Tipples.