Randell Cottage Garden

Work has started on revitalising the Randell Cottage Garden.

The gardener at the historic Nairn Street Cottage, Hannah Zwartz, has been taken on as the Randell Cottage gardener as part of a project to revitalise the garden.

Hannah Zwartz
Hannah Zwartz in the Randell Cottage garden

Trustee and Friends of Randell Cottage Chair, Mary McCallum is leading the garden project which includes Hannah (above), her mother Norma McCallum – a keen gardener who has drawn up the garden design – members of the Friends of the Randell Cottage committee, and the Botanic Gardens.

The trees have been heavily pruned to let in more light (thanks to the skills of Brett at Classic Aboriculture) and a recent working bee left the garden looking much tidier and more spacious and healthy.

Mary McCallum says it was great to have Friends of the Randell Cottage, Maggie Rainey-Smith and Dame Fiona Kidman (also a Trustee), working on the garden along with her parents – Norma and Lindsay McCallum, visitor to the Open Day Julie Middleton, and gardener Hannah Zwartz. Mary says the current writer Pat White (below) also got out and dug over the garden – ‘he’s as much a man of the land as a man of the pen, and we really appreciate his support for this project.’ She says the Trust is very pleased indeed to have Hannah as their new gardener. ‘She brings her expertise to the garden, and she is a lovely person to work with. After many years of just being weeded and mowed, we are sure the garden will blossom at her hands.’

Pat White
Pat White in the Randell Cottage garden

Mary’s also excited the Botanic Gardens has offered spare plants to the Randell Cottage Garden. ‘This is a lovely thing to see,’ she says, ‘because the Randells lived in the Botanic Gardens before they lived at St Mary Street and they would have brought some plants to the new garden with them. It feels the right place for the plants to come from.’

Mary expects there will be some plant-swapping between Nairn St and St Mary Street too as the two cottages have a lot in common.

Pat White

Sunday 16 May, Pat White was interviewed on Radio NZ National’s Arts on Sunday hosted by Lynn Freeman (midday to 4 pm).

Pat White’s poem Where the Night is Long is part of the Tuesday Poem blog.

New Zealand writer Pat White started a six month term as writer in residence at Wellington’s Randell Cottage last week. Pat White says he is delighted to be living in Thorndon, so close to the natural walking areas of both the Botanic Gardens and Town Belt.

‘The cottage is very close quality libraries, including the Turnbull Library,’ he says,’ which will be useful for my research on Peter Hooper.’

White is using his term as the Creative New Zealand Randell Cottage writer to work on a biography of Peter Hooper (1919–1991). A West Coast writer, teacher and fellow environmentalist, Hooper wrote award-winning fiction, as well as poetry and non-fiction.

White himself is also an accomplished poet and will give two poetry readings during May:

  • Palmerston North – 7.00pm on 5 May at the City Library
  • Wellington – 7.30pm on 17 May as guest poet of the New Zealand Poetry Society at The Thistle Inn.

White’s published collections of poetry include Signposts (1977); Bushfall (1978); Cut Across the Grain (1980); Acts of Resistance (1985); Dark Backward (1994); Drought and Other Intimacies (1999); and Planting the Olives (2004).

White has also produced the paintings and sculpture for an exhibition and catalogue Gallipoli: In search of a family story, which has already been shown five times in the North Island and may appear again at the Waiouru Army Museum this August. White was recently writer in residence at the Robert Lord Cottage in Dunedin, and he completed an MA in Creative Writing at the International Institute of Modern Letters last year.

New Zealand Book Council on Pat White.