Where were you born and where did you spend most of your childhood?
I was born in Oxford and grew up on a farm at Sheffield. I went to Sheffield Primary School and Darfield High School. I went to scouts and Sunday School and represented my school in rugby, cricket, swimming and athletics going on to play rugby and cricket at a senior level. I was a teacher. In my early days I taught PE then specialised in Deaf Education and moved into other fields of special education working with abused children and later on the other side at the juvenile offenders unit.
Where do you live now?
I live in Yaldhurst with Leitha. We have three children, four grandchildren and two great grandchildren.
What aroused your interest in gardening or horticulture?
My dad showed jersey cattle, southdown sheep, poultry and daffodils and I followed his interests, especially daffodils. I also have a certificate for New Zealand Champion Pekin Drake gained when I was twelve years old but have never achieved such an honour with daffodils. My dad died when I was fourteen and my mum went into care soon after. The house we lived in was sold and our daffodils were thrown out.
What gardening or horticultural interests do you have now?
After visiting the 1972 CHS daffodil show with Leitha I suggested that I might like to grow daffodils again. The rest is history as they say. I joined the CHS and the Daffodil Circle. This led to involvement in the National Daffodil Society and now to international daffodil groups. I grow and exhibit daffodils and judge internationally. Some cultivars that I have bred win prizes overseas and a Dutch bulb grower has purchased some for the Dutch bulb market. I have written many articles for local and overseas publications and they seem to have been well received
What’s your favourite plant and why?
I guess that daffodils have to be my favourite plant because of all the opportunities the genus has given me in making friends all over the world and the chance to visit places that would not otherwise have been on the bucket list. That being said I do like growing and harvesting our own vegetables and I’m sure that this has kept our family fed and healthy.
What’s been your most challenging and/or rewarding gardening project ?
My personality profile labels me as a thinker and a day dreamer. This leads to difficulty in communicating ideas and often leads me into conflict. Now that I understand this I am better able to work with people. My garden is a shambles. Leitha does better with her part. My role in horticulture has therefore been in teaching and at administration level. In many ways my dreaming has led to many new and innovative ways of doing things. I have the ideas, others implement them and the rewards of seeing a successful outcome are great.
What else do you do?
I’m back on the Board of the CHS, run a Junior Gardeners programme and chair a sub committee. I play golf and run the twilight tournaments, am on a sub committee of the National Daffodil Society, help with the Woodend Spring Flower Show and until recently have volunteered in our church cafe. Actually there is not a lot of time or energy for the home garden.
What is your passion for the future of the CHS?
I share the vision with Phil Ducker of a new site where we fulfil our new mission statement. We should be the leaders in horticultural education and in sharing our knowledge with the new gardeners of today. Sadly many of the new initiatives around town have not involved our Society members. I believe that the Board are making good decisions and are looking at ways to involve the new generation of gardeners. We do not have the time or energy to do all we would like to but there are incredible opportunities for us to support and fund those who have a dream for making Christchurch the true Garden City.