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Photographs supplied by Stephen Warren

The plaque commemorates August Wilhelm Pelzer (1862 - 1934) who was the first City Gardener of the City of Adelaide.

August Pelzer was born in 1862 in Bremen, Germany. He trained in horticulture and landscape gardening at the Royal Horticultural College in Geisenheim before completing an apprenticeship at IC Schmidt’s nursery in Erfurt, Saxony. Once qualified, Pelzer worked for local authorities in Berlin and Hamburg. Pelzer then moved to England and was employed at the nursery of F Sanders and Company in St Albans where he became familiar with English garden design.

In 1886 August Pelzer joined his extended family in Adelaide. Pelzer soon obtained employment and developed a productive working relationship with the nursery of Charles Newman & Sons. Through Newman, Pelzer designed and planted large suburban gardens for several prominent Adelaide families. 

Pelzer’s reputation and contacts assisted him to obtain the position of 'City Gardener' on 14 August 1899. In March 1900 he was appointed head of the City Gardener’s Department, answerable directly to Town Clerk. 

Pelzer brought a very European sensibility to his plans for the ‘greening’ of Adelaide. He was generally against the use and retention of native species, especially eucalypts: 'Gum trees about the plains of Adelaide will, in time to come, be trees of the past. The Eucalypts will not submit to cultivation and civilisation, and it is my candid belief that with the progress of Arboriculture gum trees will have to make room for Oriental, Mediterranean, and South American species' (Adelaide City Council, 1901 p42).

Pelzer favoured the gardenesque style, which emphasised the individual form of plants, displayed without obstruction by others. Plantings tended to be diverse and scattered rather than dense, with winding paths and island flower beds. He also grouped trees ‘so that fine vistas of the different parts of the park-land, of imposing buildings and of the surrounding Hills may be obtained’ (cited in Morton, p168).

As the City Gardener (Mr. A. W. Pelzer) reaches the retiring age limit of 70 years in March, he has submitted his resignation as an employee of Adelaide City Council, with which he has been associated for 32 years. At the meeting of the council this afternoon the resignation was accepted with regret as from March 31. It was decided to grant Mr. Pelzer leave of absence on full pay for 12 months as an expression of the council's appreciation of the fine service he had rendered the city. Referring to the resignation, the Lord Mayor (Mr. Glover) said that Mr Pelzer had been appointed to the position in August, 1899. The wisdom of the selection had been fully justified by the transformation which had been effected in the reserves of the city, on plans prepared and put into effect by Mr. Pelzer, and the formation of the gardens that constituted such a feature of many portions of Adelaide. 
News (Adelaide), 25 January 1932.

Mr. August William Pelzer, for 32 years Adelaide City Gardener, died suddenly last night at his home. Rose Terrace, Wayville.  He was 72 of age. Mr. Pelzer had previously appeared in good health, but collapsed after his evening meal, from a heart attack. He retired from his position as city gardener two years ago. He was appointed in 1899. 
Advertiser (Adelaide), 28 August 1934.



Address:North Terrace, Adelaide, 5000
GPS Coordinates:Lat: -34.921284
Long: 138.601233
Note: GPS Coordinates are approximate.
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Monument Type:Plaque
Monument Theme:Government
Approx. Event Start Date:1899
Approx. Event End Date:1931


Approx. Monument Dedication Date:2001
Front Inscription

         In Memory of 
       Wilhelm Pelzer

Born Bremen, Germany 1864
       Died Adelaide 1934

   First City Gardener of the 
    City of Adelaide.

1899 - 1931

The Descendants Group
S. A. German Association

Source: MA
Monument details supplied by Monument Australia - www.monumentaustralia.org.au
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