Member of the Month – Helen Bain

Helen BainWhere were you born and where did you spend most of your childhood?

I was born in Balclutha but grew up in Owaka in the Catlins where my father owned the local garage.

Where do you live now and with whom?

I’ve lived in Christchurch since 1958 when I took up a position with the Country Library Service. Right now I live here in Northwood with my husband Ken.

What aroused your interest in gardening or horticulture?

In Owaka we had a large veggie garden which we looked after so we had a constant supply of home-grown produce. It was a very vibrant community and people shared or traded their fruit and vegetables.

What gardening or horticultural interests do you have now?

My primary interest is in bonsai, the growing of miniature trees practice which emanated from China and Japan

What’s your favourite plant and why?

I love rhododendrons. We lost our last house due to the earthquakes but we dug up and replanted our rhodies. They stay green, are generally well behaved and retain their colour for a long time.

What’s  been your most challenging and/or rewarding gardening project ?

Developing my bonsai garden here. The house is 11 years old and we’ve been here two and half years. Although neat, it was mainly grasses, flaxes, magnolias and olive trees. It wasn’t well maintained so pulling it apart and replacing it with the Asian Garden has been a major and most satisfying achievement.

When did you join the CHS and why?

I can’t honestly remember the exact year but it’s well over 30 years ago. My love of flowers and gardening as a lifelong hobby made joining the CHS a no-brainer.

What is your passion for the future of the CHS?

I think it faces a huge challenge to attract younger members in the face of the technological developments which seem s compulsive for them. I think many of them are interested in gardening etc but don’t want to come to meetings to find out how to do things. On a different level I think it would be good if the CHS could publicise what the attractions are in a particular month in say the Botanic Gardens to encourage more people to view them.