Book Nineteen


Leicester Kyle



the Proceedings of

the Christchurch Botanical Gardens

Horticultural Apprentices'

Mutual Improvement Society



During the 1950s, after I left school, I worked for some years as a horticultural apprentice at the Christchurch Botanical Gardens. It was my intention then to work in the field of the growing of native plants. All apprentices were required to attend monthly meetings of the Christchurch Botanical Gardens Horticultural Apprentices Mutual Improvement Society. We met on a Monday night at the curator's house, a handsome stone building on the river bank at the south-east corner of the gardens; it's now a restaurant.

In March of this year (2004) there was a reunion of the apprentices of the '50s, and memories of those meetings featured in our recollections. Beforehand, intrigued at the concept of the Mutual Improvement Society, I had done some research and had discovered that it had, fifty years earlier, been a widespread means of distributing new ideas. In this coal town where I now live such groups had been used to convey Marxist philosophy.

Out of this research, infused with nostalgia, grew this work. Close attention has been paid to historical and botanical accuracy, but the characters who take part in it are composite characters - none are actual - and the names they bear are names then popular.

Leicester Kyle


A Collective Term For A
Natural Life


Our Assembly



At Supper







An Elegy At Cora Lyn


ISBN 0-476-01604-5

Published in 2005 by Heteropholis Press
P.O.Box 367
Westport, N.Z.
Botanical illustrations from: 'N.Z. Nature Studies'
Wm. Martin 1947

Map of the Botanical Gardens by Edgar Taylor
The Ch.Ch Reserves Dept., 1958

Commentary & References:

Letter to Jack Ross (9/8/05):

Dear Jack,

I enclose a copy of a work of mine that you might enjoy, or at least find curious. I had ten copies printed last week, which should be quite enough.
The last several weeks have been very busy, so busy that I lost a bit of weight, became a little run down, and now I have a cold. It was all well worth the effort, however, but will take a little time to recover - the fuss was caused by the opening of our new 500 hectare park around Millerton. There was a lot of local publicity, and crowds came to the occasion. The whole has taken four years of persistent negotiation, and the unusual nature of its establishment has created some interest. Now it is done some of the locals have taken fear that it will compromise their cannabis growing, in which they are right. Unfortunately I had entirely forgotten about this, so now have to deal with the uprising as well as I can, which isn't easy as the fears of pot users are pretty weird.
The success of the park establishment has brought me a lot of not entirely welcome notice, and I'm getting requests for interviews and talks; this weekend I'm at a conference on the conservation of native plants, for which I've been asked to contribute a chapter to a book being brought out by CUP. I later give a lecture to the Cant. Botanical Society. Into this the poetry is feeding, too, in an odd but most acceptable way, and all entirely unexpected by me when I planned to come here.
My new book, 'Breaker' - of the Homeric influence and which I mentioned to you - is coming out next month. It is being sponsored by the Buller Arts Council, and will have a launch at the Westport Library, which I must make myself enjoy as it is a necessity. The Catheter Club collection is being published by Catalyst in October, so all in all I've much to be pleased about.
Carol and I are plighting our troths in my garage on Sunday, Oct. 23rd, which I advise on the chance you might feel like a trip.

Kindest regards,


Leicester Kyle, 404 Calliope Rd., Millerton, Buller. N.Z.
Ph. & Fax: (03) 7828 608 or (03) 7828689
e-mail: lkyle@orcon.net.nz
Postal Address: c/o Postal Agency, Ngakawau, Buller, New Zealand

© Leicester Kyle, August 2005

Editorial Note

The copytext for both facsimile and transcription is my own copy of Leicester's original photocopied text.

- Jack Ross,
Mairangi Bay, March 2012.

© Leicester Kyle Literary Estate, 2012

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