Lansdale has been in the Tanner family since 1881 when they purchased an area of swamp and Kahikatea in the Kairanga. Photos of the time show gangs of men with swamp up to their chests digging the drains. Robert Tanner then began farming the fertile soils and established a Romney Marsh Stud.
The garden at Lansdale was established in 1914 by the renowned Landscape Architect of the time – Alfred Buxton. Alfred Buxton designed and constructed with the aid of the Tanner family members the garden. It is understood that Lansdale was the second North Island Buxton garden. A healthy rivalry between the Short and Tanner families formed. Not only was the competition fierce in the ram breeding world but also in private homes and gardens.
What was not originally planned were the magnificent lakes. The water features transformed the marshy land. They now provide the most incredible reflections of the 100 plus year-old trees. Oaks, Redwoods, Lyndon’s, Ash, Scotch and English Elms, Planes, and Sequoia. The five stone bridges, all different create the opportunity to meander over the lakes. The bridges are now covered by Ficus. Buxton’s trademark is the pillared loggia which brings structure and form to an area of the garden. These structures still stand firm after numerous earthquakes!
In the 1930’s Buxton returned to Lansdale and did remedial work on the fernery. The fernery is an exceptional structure and on its hay day, it was planted with ferns, had coloured lights and flowing water. Currently, the structure remains protected from the elements as the family looks at reviving the plantings. Upon Buxton’s return, he added the cascade to the southern lake, again a rock structure with cascading water.
The brick hall at the rear of the property built in the 1930’s was extensively for local gatherings. Robert Tanner regularly held community events and fundraising for soldiers and the district orphanages.
In 1947 disaster struct the Lansdale Homestead and it burnt to the ground. Fortunately, no lives were lost but everything was destroyed. The new homestead rose from the old foundation and the large terrace allows you to enjoy the magnificent surroundings.
In the last 20 years, Lansdale has undergone significant maintenance. Removal of trees, Mexican cotton palms, Tradescantia fluminensis, Iris foetidissima (stinking iris). Arborists have also worked on aging trees to enhance their life. New plantings have been undertaken of native trees including Rimu, Titoki, Totara, Pittosporum sp. Exotics have been established, Maples, Liquidambers, and Cherries. Underplanting with hydrangas and clivias have been very successful with addition of woodland pockets of the garden.
Lansdale has been lucky to have had the expertise of a number of amazing plants people from NZ and around the world. They include Gordon Collier, Tony Barnes, Dan & Peggy Benarcik (Chanticleer, PA), Richard Hart.
Currently the sixth generation of Tanner’s live and regularly visit Lansdale. The surrounding farmland also remains in the family.