Where were you born and where did you spend most of your childhood?
I was born in Wellington in 1929. At six months of age I moved to Ohakune beside Mt Ruapehu with my parents and two brothers. These were the depression days. We had a big vegetable garden and hens in one of Railway Row’s little wooden houses. I don’t remember flower gardens anywhere but I loved the little colourful wild flowers and the majestic untouched bush nearby.
At 17 we transferred to Christchurch in Hereford Street and spent hours in the Botanical gardens, then to Cashel Street where I cleaned off a stony rubbish heap and planted a colourful garden around a pink bush rose.
I left New Zealand for 3 and a half years in 1952 by boat. This was the very day my husband to be, sailed in to work as a gardener in the Botanical gardens. I spent time in England and the Continent then came back to New Zealand. Doug and I met and married in 1956, living on Clifton Hill where Doug had planted 150 dwarf apples of many varieties. I was often referred to as “The Apple Lady” . We had large fruitful gardens surrounded by gums, firs and plenty of natives.
In 1988 we left Sumner and moved to Golf Links Road. We were on two acres with a large organically managed field for growing veggies and fruit. I was commuting to Sumner School but Doug in his sixties managed the land. I spent the weekend till darkness there. After 3 and a half years we returned to another property in Sumner for family reasons.
Where do you live now?
I currently live in Sumner on Head Street. This is where Doug made a charming garden, glasshouse plus cacti and succulent double plastic house.
What aroused your interest in gardening or horticulture?
Gardening was always important in our family. In 1935 Dad was transferred to Wanganui which had the suitable climate for a big vegetable garden. This is where he taught me how to sow seeds with care. I watched for results with great excitement. One of my brothers and I became very keen on this. It was soon the war years and the hose perished. My brother and I watered with jugs and a bucket on his home made cart. I won an award at high school for my gardens.
What gardening or horticultural interests do you have now?
My own garden which provides most of my fruit and vegetable needs, and a colourful flower garden. I am interested in edibles, particularly with encouraging the younger generations to grow food.
What’s your favourite plant and why?
I love blue flowers and summer savoury. This is a plant from amongst the herbs I grow and use every day.
What’s been your most challenging and/or rewarding gardening project?
My experience and the importance of gardens for food and beauty and as a teacher running a garden club. Here I checked on 30 home gardens each year and ran my small classroom garden.
When did you join the CHS and why?
I joined the Society in 2016. My interest in gardens and gardening has never waned and I love visiting other peoples gardens which are often more extensive and superior to mine as I get new ideas of visions of what could be.
What is your passion for the future of the CHS?
To see more children, both primary and high school students involved in planting gardens with activities, visits and education enlarging their knowledge and experience. I did this with a junior Forest and Bird Society in the 70s 80s and 90s with a growing response.