Roots of My Passion: A Mother's Day Gardening Journey Through Generations

Roots of My Passion: A Mother's Day Gardening Journey Through Generations

My love of gardening and growing flowers has definitely stemmed from growing up in a family who were also passionate gardeners.   

When I look back I can see how I got inflicted with the gardening bug.

I grew up on a farm in Northland and as with most farms we had a large garden – rows and rows of vegetable gardens, a large orchard, shade house and garden beds encompassing the house. 

I remember at least twice my father having to push fences further out into the surrounding paddocks in order for my mother to expand her garden, adding in rose beds and just more garden.  That has also already happened a couple of times in my current garden, the latest garden expansion (and paddock reduction) allowing space for more hydrangeas, dahlias, chrysanthemums and mostly for the growth of foliage, something for which there is a never ending need for instore.  The calf rearing shed at the end of this section then got converted to my She Shed (who doesn’t need a pretty space to hang flowers to dry and tools and a nice chair just in case there is a moment to sit down and rest the weary back).

My mother has belonged to the local gardening club for as long as I can remember.  I remember when I was younger visiting gardens with her and the gardening club has visited her gardens many times over the years. 

My parents have moved from the farm I grew up on to where my grandparents lived by the beach with a large garden, a place very rich in gardening history. 

When I was young my grandparents had a very extensive garden and it was a fascinating place to visit ,which we did most weekends as a family ,and I stayed there across many school holidays.  It was a garden full of so many different types of exotic plants and many, many camellias. 

They were far enough north that they could grow interesting things like babaco and pepinos and macadamias and planted avocado trees long before they became the thing to eat.  My grandmother, Nanna, would do avocado mashed with salt and pepper and Worcestershire sauce on Cruskits for morning tea.  Rock cakes for afternoon tea and home-grown macadamias in homemade chocolate for dessert.  What could be better?!

My grandparents were addicted to camellias – they bred them, showed them in local competitions and they travelled across the world to attend camellia congresses.  Nanna always had camellia flowers floating in bowls or single stems in bud vases displayed inside for the short time they can be enjoyed. 

Ironically, I don’t grow a single camellia myself, as they aren’t great picking flowers, although they do have great foliage.  But every time we visited my grandparents I had to recite the three different varieties of camellia – Sasanqua, Reticulata and Japonica.  I don’t think my siblings ever remembered them but I learnt them off by heart and have never forgotten them. 

Their garden was at the time in the top gardens that you must visit in NZ.  There were always busloads of people arriving to see it. And afternoon teas being made for them to enjoy after they’d had their tour.   

While my mother and grandmother loved sharing their gardens, I love sharing my flowers and I’m sure it is all this gardening history that has led to my passion for gardening and especially for growing flowers. 

I started a picking garden to grow flowers to simply give to others.  I would pick huge bunches of freesias, anemones and other spring flowers to take home to my mother when I went to visit.  Unfortunately my grandmother had passed away before she really ever got to see my own gardens that I started to grow or to give her a beautiful bunch of flowers I had grown.  I do have iris in the garden that are from Nanna’s garden originally and they are the first of the season to flower. 

My mother loves showing me her garden when I visit and I love taking her for a walk around mine, discussing the latest flowers and plants we are trying to grow, exchanging pictures of dahlias, sharing bulbs and seedlings….   And I always come home with buckets filled with whatever gorgeous items I can pick from their garden. 

Having a florist business means that Mother’s Day passes in a blur focusing on producing beautiful flowers and gifts for mothers all across New Zealand and I don’t get to see my mother, but what I do know is that thanks to her flowers and growing is a passion we share and she understands. In fact, next year we will get to spend Mother’s Day week together as I have booked her to come and help and be my foliage picker, unfortunately she had already booked an overseas trip this year!! It also makes me feel that little bit extra happy because the passion I gained from her has helped me grow my own special flowers through our flower farm so I can share them with lots of our happy Mums on Mother’s Day.