Cross Hills Garden and Nursery
The Wilson Family have created a tourist attraction and a plant nursery at Cross Hills
The Cross Hills property was purchased in 1938 by Eric Wilson (Rodney’s father) and developed into a sheep and beef property. In the 1950’s a new homestead was built and the grounds were developed by Eric and his wife Merle with the planting of exotic trees, shrubs and a large number of rhododendrons.
In the 1970’s another large collection of rhododendrons was planted and a second garden was created which involved carting hundreds of cubic metres of soil to form hills and valleys.
At that point there was such a degree of visitor interest that the garden was extended further with the idea of diversifying beyond farming and opening it up to visitors.
In 1972 another garden was fenced off and developed with successive plantings. And again in 1982 another garden, called the Azalea Bowl.
Further development took place in the mid and late 1980’s which included a waterfall and pools in the 1990’s, and a maze in 2000.
In 1992 Eric Wilson passed away and his son Rodney took over the business.
These days the gardens now cover approximately 7 ha. There are collections of over 2000 varieties of rhododendrons and azaleas.
Aside from the display gardens which are now an established tourist attraction, there is also a nursery based off-site in Kimbolton, a café, and of course the farm. The nursery has become a leading supplier of rhododendrons in New Zealand, selling around 4000 a year.
The family also run an annual fair, the Cross Hills Gardens Country Fair which is held in November.
The farm is roughly 240 ha. It is run by Scott Wilson, Rodney’s son.