Annual scavenger hunt back at Timaru Botanic Gardens

Annual scavenger hunt back at Timaru Botanic Gardens


Timaru Friends of the Botanic Gardens group members, from left, Cecilia Davis, Leanne Thornley, Ray Davis and Alastair Thornley prepare for the weekend's annual scavenger hunt, which will run alongside the 100th anniversary of the gardens' kiosk.

JOHN BISSET/Stuff

Timaru Friends of the Botanic Gardens group members, from left, Cecilia Davis, Leanne Thornley, Ray Davis and Alastair Thornley prepare for the weekend’s annual scavenger hunt, which will run alongside the 100th anniversary of the gardens’ kiosk.

An annual family event in Timaru’s Botanic Gardens will have a special meaning this year as the group behind it remembers a late member.

The Friends of The Timaru Botanic Garden’s Scavenger Hunt will be held on Saturday and Sunday, and will coincide with the 100-year anniversary of the garden’s kiosk, where an exhibition of the late Wayne McLay’s photographs will be displayed.

McLay, a keen photographer, worked at the gardens for many years and was a founding member of the Friends of the Gardens group in 1991.

He died, in March after a short illness, aged 66.

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Friends president Alastair Thornley said McLay was then part of the reformed group in 2017 and was its president for a year.

“He was still part of the group until his unfortunate passing,” Thornley said.

The 100-year-old kiosk at the Timaru Botanic Gardens, now to be used as an education and interpretation center.

JOHN BISSET/Stuff

The 100-year-old kiosk at the Timaru Botanic Gardens, now to be used as an education and interpretation center.

A wealth of knowledge on the plant world, McLay was a sadly missed member, he said.

“It would be nice to have the scavenger hunt, with Wayne’s photos on display in the kiosk.”

The two-day event will run from 10am to 4pm each day, and will start at the kiosk.

“Those who come along will need to find characters hidden around the gardens and record who they find.”

On completion, children will receive a free sunflower seedling, with the group inviting participants to record their growing progress on its social media page.

He said the hunt was always a nice family outing that had been gaining quite a following since it was introduced four years ago as a way of introducing people to the gardens.

“It’s good for people to enjoy the gardens, as they forget they’re there.”

There will also be plants for sale at the kiosk, he said.

Timaru District Council parks and recreation manager Bill Steans said McLay began working for the then Timaru City Council Parks and Recreation Department when he left school in the early 1970s.

“He completed a Horticulture and Gardening Apprenticeship which means he worked in various parks under the watchful eye of a number of qualified gardeners,” he said.

“After qualifying he worked maintaining a number of gardens around Timaru before being based in the botanic gardens, including looking after the Graeme Paterson Conservatory.

The late Wayne McLay at the Timaru Botanic Gardens in 2017.

JOHN BISSET/Stuff

The late Wayne McLay at the Timaru Botanic Gardens in 2017.

“Wayne continued has studies towards a National Diploma in Horticulture from the Royal New Zealand Institute of Horticulture.”

Being a life member of the Timaru Horticultural Society, he entered plants and flowers in a number of shows, Steans said.

“He would always enter bonsai orchids and cut flowers and was a member of several gardening groups. Each year he would be one of the guides in the Horticultural Society’s annual tour of the Botanic Gardens held every January.”

Steans said McLay had an eye for detail and took “a great pride in his work”.

“Giving a number of talks and guided tours to groups, he shared aspects of his knowledge.”

Heather Fitzgerald and Wayne Loveday sort through a display of the late Wayne McLay's photographs in the kiosk on Thursday.

JOHN BISSET/Stuff

Heather Fitzgerald and Wayne Loveday sort through a display of the late Wayne McLay’s photographs in the kiosk on Thursday.

He continued working on the council’s contracting arm when it was set up in the 1990s and after the company was sold to Selwyn District Council.

“Latterly he became a contractor and had a time growing plants in a rented nursery and opening the education center for the public.”

Steans said, after renovating and decorating the kiosk, it has now reopened as an education and interpretation center.

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