Landscape architecture is the design of public and private outdoor spaces. Landscape architects work on anything from small domestic gardens to public parks, urban developments and rural landscapes. In New Zealand, landscape architecture only became a formalised profession in the early 1970s, although the professional was well-established overseas long before then.
Garden design and landscaping was the forerunner of modern landscape architecture. There was little demand for the services of garden designers in the very early years of Pākehā settlement – new immigrants were preoccupied with building houses and clearing the land. They made their own small kitchen and ornamental gardens. Domestic gardens of all sizes were well established by the late 19th century.
The creation of public gardens and squares required more expertise and local authorities enlisted the services of gardeners, plant-nursery workers, surveyors and engineers. Wealthy landowners who wanted large gardens also used these people, and in some cases designed their own. John Acland of Mt Peel Station in Canterbury employed a gardener but laid out the garden himself in the 1860s.
In the early 1900s plant nurseries offered garden design and landscaping services in addition to plant and seed supply. Nurseryman Alfred Buxton was one of the leading garden designers in the first few decades of the 20th century. His firm was mainly employed by prosperous farmers, urban professionals and local councils.
Buxton employed Edgar Taylor as a landscape draughtsman from 1912 until 1926, when his firm went into liquidation. Taylor was actually responsible for many of the gardens designed under Buxton’s name during his time with the firm. After leaving Buxton’s employment he worked as an independent landscape designer. He designed the garden at the Sanitarium factory in Christchurch in 1933.