Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Ilam Gardens

Ilam Gardens walk after class.

Two weeks ago, a group of students followed our lively and always happy teacher, Jean Claridge for a walk in the
gardens at Ilam Homestead, just 15 minutes from Dominion English School Christchurch.

The first person to settle at Ilam was J. C. Watts-Russell, a pioneer who came to Canterbury in 1950. In 1858 he imported a beautiful wooden house, erected it on brick foundations and developed a beautiful garden around it. These gardens are now the home of the world famous azaleas and rhododendrons. It is surrounded by pretty little bridges.

Ilam had several owners after the death of Watts-Russell in 1875. The house is now used as the Staff Club for the University of Canterbury, and is not open to the public.

In 1860 Sir John Cracroft Wilson came to Christchurch from India and brought seeds of a few varieties of rhododendrons and raised seedlings. The soil at Ilam is a heavy clay which is slightly acid, and is known as Ilam pug. It is particularly suited to rhododendrons, azaleas, and other trees.

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