During the last few decades the Sydenham property was used by Tauranga schools and community groups for education purposes. In 2003 Tauranga City Council was given the opportunity to take over management of the property for a botanic park with a subtropical emphasis (as per Franks Sydenham’s deed). The council setup a Botanic Trust which ran community workshops during 2005 to develop a master plan. Over recent years the plans have been updated with further community input and the council established 2 new groups- a Funding Trust and Advisory Group. These groups are tasked with generating development funds, prioritising park development and representing the Tauranga community.
How the park operates
- Park funding and development- facilitated by the SBP Funding Trust and Advisory Group
- Funding sources- donations, volunteers, in-kind work from local businesses and applying for grants from charitable funding organisations
- Governance and park maintenance- provided by Tauranga City Council
- Sydenham Trust deed oversight- provided by Guardian Trust who also administer the Frank Sydenham scholarship for Bay of Plenty horticulture students.
Concept Statement- “Sydenham Botanic Park primarily has a botanical focus while retaining an open grassed space for the community.”
There are 4 main themes planned for present and future park development:
- Gondwana collection- Featuring the worlds best kauri collection and companion araucaria and ferns, the close relatives of plants that grew over 135 million years ago
- Tane’s walkway- Main walkway through the park linking all the collections and featuring historic stories of local Tangata Whenua
- Frank Sydenham collection- Feature gardens inspired by the plants he grew: bulbs, cut flowers, fruit and sub-tropicals.
- Tendrils collection- Climbers and trailing plants on arbors, pergolas and poles utilising kiwifruit technology
The park already features a world class collection of kauri trees (14 species) donated by Graham and Mavis Dyer. These trees were planted in 2004 and make up part of the Gondwana collection. The genus Agathis, commonly known as kauri, is a relatively small genus of 21 species of evergreen tree. The genus is part of the ancient Araucariaceae family of conifers, a group once widespread during the Jurassic period, but now largely restricted to the Southern Hemisphere. The Dyer’s donations to this collection are ongoing.