When Russell and Mary Matthews bought the Mangorei Rd property in 1931, it was a wilderness. It was covered in blackberry, gorse and bracken, with one mahoe tree in the Dell.
The Matthews began developing the garden during the Depression when labour was cheap and plentiful. For 18 months, the family employed men through the ‘over the fence’ Depression relief scheme to clear the gorse and blackberry. They also planted shelter trees, starting with eucalypts in 1933, followed by rhododendrons, magnolias and maples.
As the garden progressed, the range of plants at Tūpare included Russell’s favourite rhododendron hybrids, daisies, and Mary’s favourite cottage garden plants. Russell also used his engineering skills to achieve the contoured walls, brick walls and concrete walls on what is a very steep property.