Artistic identity remembered as garden queen

Woman credited with transforming city has died

EMMA BAILEY
Last updated 05:00 28/12/2013
Nan Raymond
JOHN BISSET/ Fairfax NZ

DESERVEDLY PROUD: Nan Raymond in her Sealy St garden, which was endorsed as a Garden of National Significance in 2006. 

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A woman credited with transforming Timaru has died.

Former mayoress Nan Raymond died on Boxing Day at Strathallan Lifecare. She was 77.

Mrs Raymond was a significant player in the revitalisation of Timaru and the driver of the Trevor Griffiths Rose Garden.

Her widower and former Timaru mayor Wynne Raymond recalled with pride yesterday her many achievements.

"In the 1970s she showed a keen interest in drama and performed in many productions. The drama league owned some land on Church St and planned to build a rehearsal space there.

"Nan thought it could be pushed back and a little theatre put at the front, so she told the league and set about raising the money to build the little theatre."

Her daughter, Kate, said she thought everyone's mum was busy building theatres as these projects were very much part of family life.

"In 1977 she went to England and was greatly influenced by the gardens there and came back and never appeared in another play," Mr Raymond said.

She joined the beautifying society in 1972 and became the president in 1992.

Mrs Raymond oversaw trees being planted along the highway in Washdyke, as well as roses in the council roadside gardens. She also pushed for the hanging baskets and planter boxes on Stafford St after seeing similar arrangements in Germany.

In the 1980s she joined the Civic Trust and helped save the Landing Services Building.

When she heard celebrated international rose breeder Trevor Griffiths was to sell his South Canterbury property, with the potential loss of his valuable collection of roses, she sprang into action, creating the rose garden.

It has since achieved the status of a garden of national significance, along with that of the couple's former Timaru home, on Sealy St, which was sold.

"I got into trouble as I was the casting vote for the piazza and a lot of people said ‘it is not going anywhere', so Nan made it go somewhere and raised the money to build the rose garden.

"I am very proud of that," Mr Raymond said.

Daughter Jo said the idea came to her mother at 3 o'clock one morning. She got up later and started working on her new project.

Mr and Mrs Raymond were married at 22, and have been married for 54 years. Mr Raymond had visited her every day she had been at the rest home over the past year.

"We had a lovely day before Christmas," he said. "All nine of her grandchildren were there and sang to her and she loved it."

Her life will be remembered on Monday at the Sacred Heart Basilica at 2pm.

The original venue was the St John Anglican Church, but this has been changed.

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- The Timaru Herald

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