Where were you born and where did you spend most of your childhood?
I was born and raised in Geraldine, the eldest of five siblings. Schooling was in Geraldine at the district primary school and high school. Not being a great scholar I only completed two years at secondary school. My first years after school, I completed an automotive apprenticeship in Geraldine before moving to Christchurch. I took on the vegetable garden where I was boarding when I first came to the city, this was much appreciated by my landlady as there was a supply of fresh produce.
Where do you live now?
I live in Spreydon with my wife Marilyn where we raised our family. Marilyn also shares my interest in gardening with great displays in the flower gardens suitable for cutting.
What aroused your interest in gardening or horticulture?
My interest in gardening started at a young age as my grandparents had big sections and huge vegetable gardens that were always being tended with all the grandchildren encouraged to help with planting or harvesting.
All my uncles and aunts were very involved and competitive in both vegetables and flowers, showing off the spoils with pride. A school home garden was of fascination in my early life, watching for sown seeds to appear, keeping them weed free and watered. I also helped an uncle in his market garden with soil preparation, planting and harvesting tomato, potato, brassicas during my tween and teen years. I gained knowledge of soil conditions, seasonal plantings and best varieties to plant in the late 50’s and early 60’s, knowledge I still draw on now.
Drum Head Savoy cabbages the size of a large drum appeared often back then. Also very large cauliflower were produced when compared to today’s produce.
I learnt to save seeds and growing plants from seeds or cuttings have been of great interest over the years with many failures and success’.
I operated a mowing franchise for a number of years and enjoyed getting to work in other people’s gardens where I learned new skills from elderly gardeners willing to pass on their knowledge. Many cuttings were acquired and swapped during that time. Now that I’m adjusting to retirement, our garden has become a place for some quiet time or pottering about in. My younger brother has spent his working life with the Christchurch City Council starting out as an apprentice at the Botanic Gardens, Woodham Park and Mona Vale. I think gardening has been part of my DNA.
What’s your favourite plant and why?
I do not have a favourite plant as such. I’m amazed how plants battle with the elements to give the rewards we get from colours and textures as the plants go through the seasons. I enjoy all the visual panorama of colour and textures we observe along with the harvest of fruit and vegetables as the seasons change.
What’s been your most challenging and/or rewarding gardening project?
My most challenging and rewarding garden projects have been putting new life into old landscapes and seeing the smiles on faces when finished. Beating annual weeds without the use of chemicals and building up the soil structure have also had their challenges and rewards.
When did you join the CHS and why?
After one of the Ellerslie Flower Shows Marilyn and I joined the CHS to keep learning about plants and gardens.
What is your passion for the future of the CHS?
I believe the Society is in a good space as it starts a new challenging phase in different locations while providing inspiration and support to gardeners from all ranges and abilities. Attracting younger members will be necessary for the future of the CHS.