Flowers and bulbs for the Victorian Farm Garden

When early settlers travelled to New Zealand they brought plants with them from their home land and carefully nutured them on the sea journey. Some of these treasured plants continue to be loved and looked after through the generations and remain in gardens today. The flowers, seeds and cuttings at the Halfway House have been sourced from people and places where their provenance, ideally before 1900, can be explained. We begin this page by showing the plants supplied by heritage seed preservationists at the Koanga Institute, and further down are the flowers and bulbs from friends, family and historic gardens. The flowers are photographed in the Halfway House garden.


Supplier: Koanga Gardens, Wairoa.
Gifter: Celia Wade-Brown Mayoral Fund.


Perennial.  Grandmother's Garden. This is the aquilegia that came to New Zealand with our great great grandmothers and can still be seen today thriving in gardens around homes that were built over 100 years ago. This aquilegia has long stems and multi-coloured (pink blue purple white) flowers. Great cut flowers.

Catalogue: 1878 W.W. McCardle, Masterton.

Cornflower blue

Cornflower, Bachelor's Button, Emperor William
Annual. An ancient variety of cornflower from northern Europe, a sky blue star flower. Companion plant to the European grains, perfect in a cottage garden collection or border. Self seeds easily. This flower is the World War One symbol for the French, in the same way the red poppy is the remembrance flower in New Zealand.

Cornflower, Ruby Gem

Cornflower, Bachelor's Button, Ruby Gem
Annual. Stunning, classic cornflower, dark maroon flowers. Good cut flower, flowering from spring into summer. Great at the back of a border.

Orange decorative dahlia

Light yellow dahlia

A mix from old gardens. Great for attracting bees into the garden.

Larkspur Earl Grey

Larkspur, Earl Grey
Annual. This stunning larkspur is a classic example of how much our modern flowers have changed . It is an old fashioned heritage larkspur with tall open growth and open flower spikes, instead of the far more compact plants and flower spikes of modern selections.

 Snapdragon Bolivian Antique

Snapdragons along the path

Snapdragon flower

Snapdragon, Bolivian Antique
Biennial. A mix of yellow, cerise, red etc. All mixed up and striped.

Catalogue: 1878 W.W. McCardle, Masterton

Snapdragon NZ Heritage Yellow

Snapdragon, Yellow
Biennial. New Zealand heritage. A classic traditional yellow coloured snap dragon.

Catalogue: 1878 W.W. McCardle, Masterton.

Hyssop sweet marigold

Marigold Hyssop
Perennial. Border edge vege companion with starry bright yellow flowers flowering all summer into late autumn.

Sunflowers maximillian

Sunflower Maximillian
Biennial. Original form of sunflower. Starry yellow flowers in autumn.


Wallflower, Henrys Dwarf
Biennial. New Zealand Heritage. Low growing, mixed colour, scented wallflower, from plain white to mauve to mixed with yellows. They flower all winter and early spring.

Catalogue: 1878 W.W. McCardle, Masterton. Specifically, sulpher yellow and orange.



Annual. Summer and autumn colour. Brightest and long lasting with great cut flowers that also attract the butterflies.

Catalogue: 1878 W.W. McCardle, Masterton.

Heritage flowers and bulbs from friends


Saxifraga umbrosa
London Pride.
An evergreen rosette with spoon-shaped, waxy-edged leaves and tall airy spikes of starry white flowers with a pink flush, white in summer. Mat forming.

Catalogue: 1872-1873 William Martin, Fairfield Nursery, Saddlehill Road, Green Island, Dunedin.
Supplier: Wake Robin Nursery, Balclutha.
Gifter: Celia Wade-Brown Mayoral Fund.
Planted: Flower bank.



Acquilega from old farm cottage near Ongaonga

Seeds harvested from George Walker’s 1875 farm cottage garden near Ongaonga, Central Hawke’s Bay. The original plants are no longer growing on the farm. The bumble bee in this blossom seems very content!

Catalogue: 1878 W.W. McCardle, Masterton.
Gifter: Claire Bibby.
Planted: Horse paddock fence line.

Borage flower

Attracts bees into the garden. Great tasting honey. Originally from the Mediterranean region.

Gifter: Claire Bibby
Planted: Orchard lawn, horse paddock fence line.

Forget me not white

Forget-me-not, white
Myosotis. We replanted this from the stream bank at The Halfway House, into the woodland garden. We are not sure if it’s a remnant from the garden, or if the seed blew over from the garden centre next door. More research is needed to find out if the white field forget me is a Victorian arrival in New Zealand or came to the country after 1900.


Cerinthe major. Attracts bees and is a good filler plant, the size of a small shrub. Originally from the Mediterranean region.

Gifter: Claire Bibby
Planted: Orchard lawn, horse paddock fence line. 

Narcissis. 1597.
N. x medioluteus, Twin sisters.
“Generally knowne everywhere,” wrote the great herbalist John Gerard in 1597 about this fragrant wildflower he called Primrose Peerless. The bulbs were found growing along the banks of the Halfway house and were relocated to the garden. They also grow on the 1841 site of an earlier Halfway House occupied by the Wall family. The bulb has two blooms per stem, hence the name Twin Sisters, or Loving Couple. This is an original flower from the old days of The Halfway.

 NZ Snowdrop - in England called the Lodden Lily or snowflake

Snowdrop. Leucojum.
In New Zealand we call this bulb the snowdrop. In Great Britain it’s known as the Lodden Lily or Summer Snowflake. You will find this bulb growing at most pre 1900 farm gardens in New Zealand and in paddocks where original houses no longer exist. Ours came from Nott House, aka Ivy Bank Farm.

Gifter: Donna Sherlock.


Violet [unidentified]
The violet, a favourite Victorian flower.

Gifter: Hazel



John Tradescant brought the pelagonium to England from South Africa in 1631. Ours came from the historic garden of Golder Cottage, established in 1876. We don’t know its name.

Gifted cutting: Golder Cottage, Upper Hutt.
Planted: Horse paddock fence line.