A Gardener's Legacy

This is the story of the Old Driefontein Farm, a section of which became the home of St Stithians College, written by Pauline Dickson. This beautiful book showcases the exceptional property on which St Stithians stands and is the history of the transformation and restoration of this landscape through gardening passion, to create this African highveld school parkland.


This is the story of the old Driefontein Farm, a section of which became the home of  St Stithians College. It is the story of ‘God’s gift’, a vast tract of land where the Founders’ vision for a Methodist school rose from dream to reality. This is ancient ground, connected by a fault line to the Cradle of Humankind, flowing with water, and alive with indigenous fauna and flora. 

For Pauline Dickson, the College is on sacred land. When she first drove onto the campus, down a dirt road to the Boys’ Prep looking for a school for her boys, she fell in love with the raw beauty of the setting. The gardener in Pauline was moved to restore the landscape, where wattle and blue gum had been grown to support the mining needs of the country. That desire to rehabilitate the estate translated into a passion that has led to Pauline’s astonishing legacy of service as the ‘Gardener of St Stithians’.

As you travel through the visually stunning pages of this book, Pauline’s story will reveal just some of the secrets of the forest. The myth of how the felling of the blue gums causes the flooding of fields will finally be dispelled. You will hope for the spring to break through rock and find its course once more.

‘A Gardener’s Legacy’ is anecdotal, a unique history of the school and a comprehensive record of how the fragile ecosystem of the estate has been restored. The landscape will change – trees will be planted, buildings will rise – what will not change is the inspirational and indelible footprint left by the feisty and indomitable Pauline Dickson.


About the Author: 


This is Pauline Dickson's first book.  Pauline has lived her life around her passions. First and foremost, came her husband and children, and by extension, their families, once they were old enough to have spread their wings.

By association, this passion extended into the school her two sons, Robert and Andrew, attended. This school, St Stithians College, provided an opportunity for Pauline to combine her passion for the school with another passion – that of everything to do with landscape gardening, from consulting, to design, to costing, procurement and project management. As early as 1980, the school asked Pauline to assist with the planning and gardening for the Boys’ Prep. This began a relationship that has stood the test of time.

Pauline fully used her Fine Arts expertise to bring an unrivalled capability to conceptualise and visualise grand designs to bear, when eventually designing a vision for the entire 230-acre St Stithians’ estate. During the years from 1980 until 2016, Pauline has worked tirelessly to deliver that vision. She has managed the water behaviour and utilisation, eradicated most of the exotic trees and created a parkland with thousands of indigenous trees. The estate now boasts a mixture of wetlands, woods and grasslands, finely sculpted contours and perfectly integrated school buildings, sports fields and roads to deliver an experience second to none for students, parents and staff. 

Somewhere in the middle of all that, Pauline battled and overcame cancer, brought up her children, served (and still does) as a Ward Councillor, continued, for many years, to teach pottery and helped her husband through the trauma of being shot during a botched robbery at their house. 

So it is, that Pauline has culminated her long and successful association with the school in a way that is, not only fitting, but somehow pre-ordained. She has poured her energy and passion into an enduring legacy for herself and for the school. The legacy of their mutual history is surely the only way that such an enduring relationship could possibly end – in a triumph of even greater magnitude. 

All who take the time to browse this story and it's conversations, will be touched and saddened, inspired and enthralled, enriched and amazed and will be forever changed. 

How to order:

To purchase your copy of 'A Gardener's Legacy' you can visit The Stythian Shop on our St Stithians College campus or you can order it online by completing the following order form, selecting your delivery option and sending through your proof of payment.