Blue Mountain Nurseries - Gardens


Blue Mountain Nurseries of Tapanui was founded in 1931/32 by Stanley R. Hughes who immigrated to New Zealand in 1924 after attending agriculture college in England.  At first, the Nursery produced vegetables for local consumption but Stanley's first love was ornamental plants such as bulbs, perennials, alpines and trees and shrubs.


Stanley built up his business with the support of his wife Elizabeth (who immigrated to New Zealand in 1924 marrying Stanley in 1935).  Their three children John, Denis & Judith all helped on the nursery during their teenage years and beyond.


Stanley was a keen collector & plantsman.  He was  known within New Zealand for the rare and unusual, as well as his skill as a plant breeder.  Plant lovers from all over the country would visit Stanley to talk about and enjoy his plant collections. He was a member of many national and international horticultural societies as well as a fellow and a life member of the Royal Horticultural Society Great Britain.  Stanley breed and introduced many plants including...


  1. a.                   Scabiosa caucasica Blue Mountain
  2. b.                  Scabiosa caucasica Mt Cook
  3. c.                   Cham lawsoniana Hughesii.
  4. d.                  Chrysanthemum coccineum Otago.
  5. e.                   Chrysanthemum coccineum Southland.
  6. f.                   Gaillardia Judy Hughes.
  7. g.                  Gaillardia Hughes Red.
  8. h.                  Gaillardia Hughes Yellow
  9. i.                    Lavender Blue Mountain
  10. j.                    Lilies.
  11. k.                  Daffodil. Including Goldrush.
  12. l.                    Erythronium Pink hybrids.
  13. m.                Tulips. Tulipa Ivory
  14. n.                  Iris high health English types. 



Many of these plants are still available today.


Cut-flowers were first produced at the Nursery in the 1930's and sold to auction markets and florists.  Floral work was also an important part of Stanley's business where a local funeral could require up to 60 wreaths and sprays.    


Ernest Hughes, Stanley's brother, was also a keen plantsman and plant breeder and lived at Millers Flat (Central Otago) where he grew bulbs and cut-flowers.  Today his Narcissus cultivars have been incorporated into Blue Mountain Gardens bulb selections.


The nursery became a larger family business with John and his wife Irma, and, Denis and wife Margaret each developing their own interests and expanding the business from 1966.  At this time the nursery was split into two business units.   John developed the bulbs, cut flowers and perennials in association with his farm (Formally owned by A.J.S. Winslade) as Blue Mountain Gardens.  Denis developed the tree, shrub and retail outlet keeping the Blue Mountain Nurseries name.  Stanley & Elizabeth Hughes also operated the Florist business until Stanley's death in 1976.


From the 1960's the Nurseries have grown considerably from Stanley's three hectares.  Today there are thirty hectares in plant production.  The Nurseries today produces plants' for national sale with 95% being sold outside of the West Otago area.   

Blue Mountain Gardens had streamlined the production of bulbs and cut-flowers by mechanising production making for a highly competitive production unit.  The Bulb harvester can lift 10 tonnes of bulbs per day.  The Gardens sold their bulbs both by mail order and through wholesale outlets.  


Cut flowers were a major part of Blue Mountain Gardens business where Tulips, Daffodils and Iris's were picked from the field during September - February.  Tulips are also conditioned in coolstore's during summer and forced during winter months in greenhouses to provide cut-flowers out of season for the New Zealand market.  Production of cut-flowers had increased considerably during the past 35 years with up to 80 cartons a week being sold in the 1970's to peaks of 400 cartons a week in the 1990's.


John and Iram Hughes retired in 2004 and the business was closed 


Denis and Margaret Hughes have also developed the Nursery significantly since 1966.  Today the Nursery produces plants for national distribution to other nurseries and garden centres

Denis, like his father, has become a great plant collector.  Today the nursery has stock plants of more than 4,000 different plants.  Rhododendrons have become a passion for both Denis and Margaret with Denis producing the first plants of Rhododendron Crest in New Zealand and Margaret breeding City of Dunedin (The feature plant for the 150th anniversary of Dunedin City).


The Nursery is known for its rare and unusual plants due to Denis & Margaret's enthusiasm.  The range of Deciduous Azaleas dubbed The Blue Mountain Azaleas and Agapanthus Blue Mountain are some of the latest additions to the plant list due to Denis'  plant breeding programme.  


Other plants bred or introduced by Denis are:

Coprosma Clearwater Gold

Coprosma Little Walter

Chaenomeles Mrs Murphys Red

Chaenomeles Emerald

Chieranthus Beth

Astelia Westland

Clematis paniculata Bridal Veil

Clematis cartmanii Sweet Hart

Pleione Alishan Tui

Pleione formosana Silver Lining

Malus Blue Mountain

Rhodo City of Dunedin

Rhodo Dear One

Rhodo Happy Anniversary

Agapanthus Blue Mountain

Lavender angustifolia Blue Mountain

Lavender angustifolia White Mountain

Azalea Pavlova

Azalea Baby Girl

Azalea Charlotte de Rothschild


Azalea Nicholas de Rothschild

Azalea Midas Touch

Azalea Pink Chiffon

Azalea Mollie

Azalea Sunray

Azalea Softlights

Pseudowintera colorata Red Leopard

Parahebe Mt Dalgety

Parahebe Mt Herbert

Olearia Fiordland

Juniperus recurva Audrey

Juniperus recurva Ron

Daphne bholua Pink Ice

Cupressus glabra Lemon Spire

Sorbus Apricot Sunset

Sorbus Rose Sunset

Sorbus Winter Sunset

Cornus Silver Lining

Betula Black Magic


Cham. lawsoniana Blue Mountain

Olearia arborescens (Varieagted) not named as yet

Metrosiderus umbellata Kaka

Metrosiderus umbellata Christmas Dream

Cornus Greenvale

Coprosma Cattle Flat

Spireae Cristata

Galanthus elwesii Emerald

Nothofagus fusca Rainbow

Potentilla Wendonside