Auckland Botanic Gardens at Manurewa, South Auckland
Before I worked in Auckland Botanic Gardens in November 2008, I took it for granted they are pretty gardens for people to enjoy. After 9 weeks there, I saw how much work the team put in to beautify the gardens, and the maintenance behind it, I appreciate the back end work a lot more today.
Auckland Botanic Gardens is located right next to the Southern Motorway (SH1) on Hill Road at Manurewa. To get there, travel south from Auckland downtown and exit at the Manurewa/Hill Road after Manukau City. Turn left onto Hill Road and the main entrance is the first driveway on the left.
Auckland Botanic Gardens is opened from 8am to 8pm during daylight saving hours (summer) and 8am to 6pm during non-daylight saving hours (winter). It is free entry for all and only closed on Christmas Day.
How I got the job at Auckland Botanic Gardens? I really wanted to spend my final New Zealand summer (November 2008 to January 2009) in Auckland. There were only two specific positions I wanted to try, Gardener at Auckland Botanic Gardens and Park Ranger for Auckland Regional Parks.
Around winter 2008, I sent in separate enquiry emails to express my interest to these 2 locations. After several follow-up emails, I got connected to the Manager in-charge of maintenance for Auckland Botanic Gardens. At the same time, I was called for an interview for the Park Ranger position.
In early October, I was confirmed an internship as Gardener in Auckland Botanic Gardens. Of course, I was super excited about going to Auckland for summer again, and really looked forward to my internship. At late October, I also received news that I got the position for Park Ranger, which I turned down. (Both Auckland Botanic Gardens and Regional Parks are under Auckland Regional Council.)
What I did at Auckland Botanic Gardens? Like a typical gardener, I did weeding, raking, transplanting, deadheading, mulching, pruning, watering, and cleansing etc. Most of the time, my duty is to assist the curator at his/her garden plot with the respective task on hand.
During summer, the plants are growing so rapidly that I could just finish weeding 1 plot this week; the weeds are invading again in the following week. Same case for deadheading, especially roses, the flowers start to wilt 2-3 weeks after removal the dried flower heads.
I was very lucky that they gave me an hour off duty to observe how they run their educational programmes. Kiwi kids are generally surrounded by greenery and most have home gardens, hence, they seems genuinely interested when learning about parts of a flower and types of seeds.
Most of them who work at there are very passionate about plants. They have heaps of books about plants and spend their free time learning more about them. They are all very nice and willing to share their knowledge and expertise, especially the little things about gardening and maintenance. Some of them also have their own vegetable garden and compost bin at home!
All my colleagues at Auckland Botanic Gardens are fit and look way younger than their actual age! One of them was actually 62, but could easily pass off as a 40-year-old! Another of them, at 45-years-old, is physically fitter than a 25-year-old me! It is amazing how working in the gardens can do wonders to health and youth!
After my enjoyable experience in Auckland Botanic Gardens, I added 1 new to-do in my life – to work in at least 10 different Botanic Gardens around the world during this lifetime!