Garden Heroes: Robyn Willis



We want to recognise those in the community who are making a positive impact through gardening and all that it encompasses. So we’ve decided to launch Daltons Garden Heroes to celebrate those who are gardening for the greater good.

Each month we will profile someone who we think is a gardening hero and share their inspiring story with you. It could even be someone in your community. There will be a range of interesting people and their good work will hopefully inspire others and maybe spark a passion for gardening!

A Garden with Links to Royalty - Robyn Willis

Robyn Willise: Garden Hero

Not many people can claim that the oak trees in their garden grew from Royal acorns. Volunteer extraordinaire Robyn Willis can!

The towering Oak Silver trees she looks after at Mercy Hospice in Ponsonby, grew from acorns that fell from established Silver Oak trees planted at the most famous castle in the world, Windsor Castle.

Robin says the acorns made their way to New Zealand onboard ships but isn’t 100 percent sure exactly how they ended up at the gardens she has lovingly managed for over 10 years.

Many of the trees were planted by the novitiates who lived on the grounds in the 1950s. Today, the mature trees create a beautiful canopy beneath which hedging divides individual gardens where
visitors, staff and patients alike can find privacy and calm. Mass plantings of bulbs and roses make each “room” have a different feel.

The development of the beautiful gardens has been tirelessly led by Robyn, supported by mountain-loads of Daltons compost and a network of volunteers and community workers. Robyn has dug,
fertilised, mulched and planted to transform what was a lot of bare ground, dead fruit trees and aging hedges to the serene haven it is today.

“I’ve created rooms out of sculpted hedges where family and staff can go where it is private and semi-protected,” Robyn says. “I have enormous respect for the doctors and nurses and what they
face every day and find great pleasure in giving back.”

Although retired, Robyn still has plenty of energy to continue her work. “I enjoy community service. I have found if you ask correctly people will respond to help.”

The renamed Mercy Hospice Auckland was officially opened on its current site in March 2007. The facility was donated by Sisters of Mercy for the development of hospice care. Mercy Hospice Auckland provides a range of specialist community palliative care and hospice services for people facing life limiting illnesses, as well as also offering support to family, friends and carers to help them cope with problems arising from the illness. Their services are offered free to patients and their families 24 hours a day, seven days a week.


Other garden heroes: