Lesley-CloustonWhere were you born and where did you spend most of your childhood?

I was born in Wellington but spent all my school days in Hastings. I lived in Auckland at various times, did the big OE and came to Christchurch 40 odd years ago.

Where do you live now and with whom?

I live in Hoon Hay with my husband Graeme.

What aroused your interest in gardening or horticulture?

My parents had a vegetable garden and I always liked watching things grow there.

What gardening or horticultural interests do you have now?

My primary interests are my food gardens, the pleasure of picking and eating within hours is wonderful. Things taste so much better. I also like growing food you can’t readily buy in the shops – tomatillos, fennel, spicy radishes and the like. I also have a small area of flowers I can cut for the house, I’m planting some seasonal pleasures like daphne in pots to keep beside the front door and the rest is perennials and shrubs.

What’s your favourite plant and why?

There are too many to pick from. Maybe beefsteak tomatoes?

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

Creating a food forest around a few, well-established fruit trees.  The concept of a food forest did not originate in temperate climates and I find it difficult to identify suitable plants. It’s a work in progress, this winter some of my first plantings will be replaced and some others re-located.

When did you join the CHS and why?

About 5 years ago, after I retired. I had always wanted to attend the meetings but it was difficult with a full time job.

What is your passion for the future of the CHS?

Many young people are interested in gardening because they want to grow their own healthy food, they want to save threatened species, they want to retain natural habitats for wildlife and so on.

They have busy lives and technology has changed the way they communicate, exchange information and socialise. Somehow the CHS needs to attract these people, I don’t know how – many other organisations are struggling with the same issues.