Heritage garden event open to all – with butterflies

As part of Wellington Heritage Week, the pre-1900s heritage garden at Glenside’s restored Halfway House is open to the public for a delightful spring event.
A larkspur with dark blue petals to make ink and a bee friendly flower once called Honeycomb are some of the heritage seeds that will be on sale at the historic Halfway House in Glenside, north of Johnsonville, during Wellington Heritage Week this month. 

The seed was collected by the Heritage Gardeners, a volunteer group formed in 2014 under the leadership of local resident Claire Bibby. The gardeners are developing a heritage garden setting for the historic Halfway House, only using plants that were in Aotearoa New Zealand before 1900.  

“As early as 1842 there was a building called the Halfway House here,” explains Claire. “The Halfway House provided accommodation for travellers halfway between Wellington and Porirua. In 1849 its location was marked on a map by the surveyor of the Porirua road, placing it at the entrance to the present-day reserve.” 

In c1871, the house and farm were bought by Alexander and Margaret Brown. They built a new house in c1880 and tenanted the former one, which burned down in 1891. 

“When I moved to Glenside in 1998, I was concerned the current Halfway House would follow the history of its predecessor. It was unoccupied and deteriorating in blackberry and long grass,” says Claire. 

“Our community motivated the Wellington City Council to renovate it (completed in 2017) and it’s now listed as a heritage building on the District Plan.  We also successfully asked Council to create a Historic Reserve status for the site.” 

The house is in a rural setting, with a stream, and horses in the large reserve over the fence. Claire says the garden is a sensory experience of colour and texture of the colonial era. 

“Many native and early settler plants are moth and butterfly friendly. We recently achieved certification as a Butterfly Friendly Garden by the Moths and Butterflies of NZ Trust. They will join us during Heritage Week, selling native plants, swan plants and butterfly houses along with butterfly themed gifts.”  

The garden is open, free of charge at any time. 

The Heritage Week event is on Sunday, October 31 at 2:00 pm. 

A record of Heritage Garden plants is available online.

- Claire Bibby, President of the Glenside Progressive Association and leader of the Halfway House Heritage Gardeners.