Special camellias go in at Volunteer Corner

6 July 2015

The roots and significance of the new park on the corner of Dixon and Victoria Street will be remembered this Thursday (9 July at 1.30pm) when Deputy Mayor Justin Lester and Volunteer Wellington get together to help plant some special camellias.

The three camellia bushes will be a finishing touch to the park and Victoria Street transformation project, which is now complete.

The park is one of two new inner-city parks created as part of the transformation. The other is the new Te Niho Park on the corner of Vivian Street.

There’s been a tree and a garden bed in this area since at least the early 1970s but in 2001 the garden was officially named Volunteer Corner and replanted by volunteers.

Among the plants that went in to mark International Year of Volunteers was a type of camellia known as Volunteer, which was bred by Taranaki grower Mark Jury and first released that year to honour volunteers and the amazing contribution they make.

The camellias – which also featured on a special postage stamp in 2001 – have attractive ruffled blooms. The flowers are a soft pink edged with white at first but gradually deepen in colour, becoming redder as the flowering season progresses.

Councillor Lester says the Council liaised with Volunteer Wellington to make sure the redesign of Volunteer Corner incorporated the features of the existing garden that were most important to the city’s volunteer community.

“This included finding a good spot for Volunteer camellias and reinstalling commemorative plaques.”

Volunteer Wellington Co-Manager Pauline Harper says volunteers helped develop the garden in 2001. 

“It was an auspicious garden and great having a corner that celebrated the huge contribution volunteers make in Wellington. However, the size and shape of the raised planter bed was a bit of an obstacle for pedestrians and meant there really wasn’t anywhere people could gather.

“One of the good things about the new park at Volunteer Corner is that it will be a place where people can sit, reflect and celebrate.”

The park has been designed around the existing giant elm tree and includes a special steel ramp and stair structure that will allow people to get right up close to the trunk and protect the tree roots, which have been growing in the raised planter box above ground level.

There will also be native plants, lots of seating, a small lawn and other open areas that people can enjoy all year round.

The Council has invested in Victoria Street because it is a part of the city where several thousand more people are expected to be living in coming years.

“New residential and other developments are happening and we want to encourage other property owners to commit to improving and redeveloping their sites,” Cr Lester says. “Just a block from Cuba Street, it’s ideally situated to become a fantastic central city neighbourhood.”

A nine-storey apartment building is already under way at the intersection of Abel Smith Street and several other new developments are planned. These include an apartment complex adjacent to St Peter’s Church, just along from Volunteer Corner, and a new WelTec/Whitireia campus for more than 1000 students across the road.