The early settlers brought with them an English love of gardening. Early records and pictures show that gardens were established as soon as houses were built. Mainly European fruits, flowers, and vegetables were naturally preferred as New Zealand had few suitable native ornamental plants or vegetables. Citrus were favourite fruits in the warmer parts. At the same time, introduced trees were used for shelter planting on farms. It is hard to realise in Taranaki and the Waikato, for example, that Pinus radiata, macrocarpa (Cupressus macrocarpa), and Lawson's cypress (Chamaecyparis lawsoniana) are not native to New Zealand. And in Central Otago, the Lombardy poplar's spring and autumn colours now lend a natural, almost native, beauty to the countryside.
It was not long before many of these introduced plants flourished aggressively and became trouble-some weeds, especially gorse and sweet brier and, more recently, Cape tulip (Homeria collina) and water hyacinth (Eichornia crassipes).
Many of the large farm homesteads which were established some 60 to 100 years ago, and planted in the English eighteenth century “landscape” fashion, are now places of great beauty with many fine specimen plants. Nowadays farm homesteads are more modest and can hardly be distinguished from larger suburban properties. Most of the early larger city gardens (often 1-acre sections) are now subdivided. A few specimen plants from these still exist – old camellias in Wadestown, Wellington, or Norfolk Island pines in Mount Smart Road, Onehunga. Historic and notable trees are at present being recorded by the New Zealand Forest Service and the Royal New Zealand Institute of Horticulture. Many such plants and trees were imported or grown by nurserymen, and the wide range of their nurseries was an indication of community interest in trees, shrubs, and flowers.