Skip to main content

Historic topiary - Glendon

A 1933 view of John Cooper's topiary garden - 02-285/28

From the 1920s to 1960, John Cooper's topiary garden at Newman, on the main road north of Eketahuna, was a popular tourist attraction.

John Cooper built Glendon in 1892 and the topiary reached its zenith in the 1930s, mirroring the revival of topiary by the Arts and Crafts movement in England.  In 1933 the garden was visited by Lady Bledisloe, wife of the Governor-General.

After his death in 1942 the topiary garden remained in place until the Cooper farm was sold in 1960.

The garden in 1920 - 04-41/14

A child sitting in a topiary chair in Cooper's topiary garden, 1930 - 04-41/12

John Cooper working on topiary, 10 September 1930 - 04-41/9

Mrs Cooper and a topiary hen, circa 1930s - 04-41/8

Early 1930s view of garden - 04-41/2

Man on a sofa, circa 1930s - 04-41/5

John Cooper and Lady Bledisloe, wife of the Governor-General, 1933 - 04-41/4.
Note the topiary man sitting to the right of Lady Bledisloe.

The second Glendon
After 1960 the house and garden fell into disrepair until the property was bought in 1971 by Margaret and Kel Lucas, who spent many years restoring the house and creating a large country garden.

Glendon homestead, prior to restoration, 1980 - 04-41/18

A 1990 view of the house after restoration - 04-41/30

Garden after restoration, undated - 04-41/23

Garden after restoration, undated - 04-41/22
Garden, showing colchicums, lavender and wachendorfias, undated - 04-41/20

Glendon today
Interested in how Glendon had fared in recent years, I took some photos from State Highway 2.  While some of the trees are a little overgrown, the shape of the garden, including the lovely sweep of the driveway put in place by Mr and Mrs Lucas, still provides a very attractive view.

The driveway, January 2011.

Glimpse of the homestead from the road, January 2011

A corner of the old picket fence, January 2011

Margaret Lucas wrote a book about the history of Glendon and its restoration: Glendon: topiary and tranquillity - a history of two gardens.  It is available from Heritage Press and the Wairarapa Archive.

Source: Wairarapa Archives


  1. As soon as I saw the gables of the house in the first photo I knew exactly which property this was going to be! As a child in the 1970s and 80s I was fascinated by the neglected, and then restoration taking place, as we traveled constantly from Masterton to Pahiatua. Lovely to see the topiary. What vision of the first Mr Cooper.


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Featherston Military Camp

B Company, 22nd reinforcements, on the Rimutaka Hill, 1917. The men are wearing toitoi on their hats. 00-38/

In January 1916 the biggest army training camp in New Zealand opened in Featherston. The camp occupied the land on both sides of the main road between Featherston and Tauherenikau. In 1916 the camp was the biggest settlement in the Wairarapa at a time when Masterton’s population was 5,500. It covered almost 30 hectares. Today there is only a memorial to the camp by State Highway 2.

McRae-Tatham wedding, 1902

Wairarapa Daily Times, Volume XXVI, Issue 7325, 1 December 1902, Page 2

One of the prettiest weddings which has taken place on the East Coast, for a long time, was celebrated on Wednesday last, at Homewood, the residence of Mrs Tatham.

The contracting parties were Nehemiah, youngest son of the late Nehemiah McRae, Esq., of Nelson, and Effie Mabel, second daughter of the late Frederic E. Tatham, of Homewood. The bride, who was given away by her brother, Mr J. H. Tatham, was dressed in soft white silk trimmed with lace insertion, and wore the usual bridal veil and orange blossoms. The bridesmaids were Miss Ivy Tatham, sister of the bride, and Miss Marjorie Ward, niece of the bridegroom, and were prettily attired in white silk dresses. The bouquets, which were carried by bride and bridesmaids, were composed of white roses, syringa, and maiden hair fern.

The bridegroom was attended by Hugh Morrison, Esq., of Blairlogie, as best man. The bridegroom's present to the bride w…

1942 Earthquake: Masterton's business area badly wrecked

Evening Post, 26 June 1942


Masterton's main street was a sorry sight yesterday.

With huge piles of brick and masonry sprawling across the footpaths and roadway, shattered shop windows, and trailing high-tension lines, the condition of the mile-long thoroughfare was testimony to the intensity of the previous night's earthquake. In the residential areas householders suffered considerable damage to property, and it appears that Masterton took the main shock. Miraculously no casualties of any sort have been reported.