Wittunga Botanic Gardens at Blackwood, and the homestead were established in 1902 by Edwin Ashby who had arrived in Adelaide in 1888. Two years later he married Esther Coleman and the couple eventually had four children. Edwin based the garden on a formal English design. After the homestead was destroyed by a bushfire it was rebuilt in 1934. Although the gardens reflect Ashby's passion for Australian flora it does include a collection of South African species as well.
When Edwin Ashby died in 1941 his son Keith, who shared his father's passion for Australian and South African plant, continued the work. He and his family in turn donated the gardens on 15 October 1965 to the Community of South Australia. Both parents and children are buried in the Quaker section of the West Terrace Cemetery. Since that time the gardens have been further developed by the Board of the Botanic Gardens and the State Herbarium.
After Keith's death in 1971 the board assumed full resposibility for Wittunga and significantly extended the gardens. They were officially opened to the public on 14 September 1975 by His Excellency the Governor, Sir Mark Oliphant K.B.E.