John is a qualified landscape designer and stonemason with more than 35 years’ experience and his wife Pip is a ceramic artist with a keen eye for colour and detail, who works with him 2-3 days a week to help keep the 132-year-old cemetery looking its best.
Over the past two and a half years the tight team has been working with the Purewa Cemetery Trust Board and General Manager Alastair Crombie, on a programme of constant innovation and improvement of the gardens, which form an important part of Purewa.
One of the notable new developments has been the building and planting of new kidney gardens to complement 16 older kidney gardens. After the landscape designs were approved John drew on his stone mason skills to build the outer stone and concrete walls.
In the centre of the gardens, a circular garden was planted with a profusion of poppies creating a stunning visual affect. The kidney gardens have been planted with a variety of plants including carpet roses, lavender, camellias, bay trees and gardenia.
Alastair Crombie says the kidney gardens are a popular choice for families choosing a place to inter their loved ones’ ashes after cremation and the new plantings provide a beautiful setting.
Other improvements include designing and building a new concrete and stone mini wall to support a new sign in front of the Lounge of Remembrance and redesigning and planting colourful plants in the entrance to the lounge.
A new Chairman’s Garden near the older kidney gardens has replaced an old stone and concrete monument which displayed memorial plaques. The original monument developed drainage and foundation weaknesses and the plaques have all been repositioned on a new memorial wall nearby. The Chairman’s Garden features New Zealand native plants and offers visitors a quiet place to sit and reflect.
“Purewa is such a beautiful environment to work in, and it’s very rewarding to be involved from concept design through to construction and planting, and to see the finished gardens giving pleasure to so many people,” John Says.