Where were you born and where did you spend most of your childhood?
Gaynor was born in Timaru, was educated and worked there until 1967 when Roger and she married. Roger was born in Motueka, educated in Dunedin, and moved to Timaru. We have been married 50 years in October, and wherever we shift to in the future, will include a garden, but not as big as the present one.

Where do you live now?
We live in Bowenvale Avenue, in Christchurch. For the first 24 years in Christchurch we lived in Spreydon. In 1993 we moved to Bowenvale Avenue, into a ¼ acre established section, where we had a small hydroponic glasshouse where we grew tomatoes and basil. In 2007 when we had both retired, we purchased a section further down on the other side of Bowenvale Ave to get the sun earlier.

What aroused your interest in gardening or horticulture?
Both of our parents, and grandparents were keen and experienced gardeners and from them we began an interest and appreciation of gardening. In those days the growing and harvesting of vegetables was almost expected, the flower garden often when you had time. The style and choices of plants changes over the decades, and Gaynor became interested in perennials and woodland type plants. Along with gardening friends, would regularly visit the gardens open to the public. Gaynor also enjoys floral art, and so flowers that would survive in a vase were amongst the plants of choice. Roger’s grandfather was a farmer in Riwaka, and was involved in the growing and harvesting of hops and tobacco.

What gardening or horticultural interests do you have now?
Our present section is 749 sq m. We both enjoyed the challenge of landscaping a new garden 10 years ago, and choosing our favourite plants. We have a small but good producing vegetable plot, and two raised gardens, one for lettuces and peppers, and one for strawberries. We do not use any sprays for vegetable growing, and indeed notice the different taste of freshly harvested vegetables against those from the supermarket. We have an espaliered apple tree producing three different apple varieties. Gooseberry, blackcurrant, blueberry bushes, feijoa and blackboy peach trees, plus the usual plot of rhubarb, this fruit enjoying a new appreciation over recent years. We grow a few tomatoes in pots in Summer, along with a Meyer lemon, Tahitian and Kaffir lime bushes,

What’s your favourite plant and why?

While the beauty of each season always bring surprises and pleasure. Gaynor’s favourite plants would include trilliums, hellebores, paeonies, roses, and the small treasures that pop up in early spring. Roger’s favoured plants are rhododendron and camellias. The trees we have planted, are mostly deciduous, and we find pleasure in seeing the fresh new leaves appear, the blossom and then further brighten the garden with their changing autumn colours.

What’s been your most challenging and/or rewarding gardening project ?
This last garden has been a challenge to get the soil to its present friable healthy stage. Our sub division was checked for any chemical that had been used in this area and may have been residual in the soil. During this process the soil was turned over and then a mix of poorer quality soil and stones was what we were left with. This has taken trailer loads of organic and animal manure and gypsum to improve the soil condition. More recently we have found that using coir bricks made from coconut fibre, along with a few teaspoons of seaweed liquid added to water the coir bricks are soaked in, makes a difference also. This has given us excellent results.

When did you join the CHS and why?
We joined the CHS in 2009, to enjoy and share the passion of gardening with other like minded folk, and to increase our knowledge of plants and horticulture.

What is your passion for the future of the CHS?
The involvement and encouragement of the CHS in the Gardening in Schools project is so worthwhile with its focus on growing vegetables and gardening generally. It is an excellent start for the younger generation to build on and continue. We would like to see the young home owners, younger members keen to build on their garden knowledge, encouraged to join the CHS.