Avice Hill Reserve on Memorial Avenue near the airport was once part of Christchurch’s first commercial herb farm, and an interesting herb garden can still be seen there.
Avice Hill, 1906-2001, was brought up by her grandmother and great aunt, and the reserve commemorates this family of independent and successful women. Avice had always been interested in insects, and bred butterflies from the time she was seven. In the 1930s and 40s she worked as an entomologist at the Cawthron Institute in Nelson, and she was one of only a handful of woman science graduates at that time. She inherited this land from her great aunt and was inspired to set up a herb farm after she visited Sissinghurst with her husband in 1955. Avice bequeathed the house and one and a half acres of land to the city of Christchurch, as a craft centre. The house is available for hire, through the City Council, and an annual Art and Craft Festival is held there in February. The bequest ensured the protection of the many mature trees which had been planted by Avice’s great-aunt.
“The touch of Avice Hill’s green hand
still lingers on this tranquil land.”