Hard work and attention to detail
In the New Zealand Gardener in October 1948, Bernie Hollard wrote of his original garden: “The area of bush I fenced off and planted out contained many undesirable ‘hungry’ trees and the soil could not therefore be completely cultivated; in addition, the ground was smothered in native weeds."
He worked from dawn to dusk, frequently having to be searched for in the large garden and needing to be reminded by Rose to have a meal.
He paid huge attention to detail, always considering how he could help a plant to grow better. He would quiz visitors on growing techniques.
On their return, they would find that he had taken their advice, often shifting the plant to another location.
Graham Smith remembered him as an “innovator” who could plant South African plants that did best in hot and dry conditions next to South American rainforest plants and European herbaceous plants.
“He had the knack of coaxing the best out of each plant. He liked to collect plants. If there was something new, he was on to it, he couldn’t say no. He would try it but if it was unhappy in Kaponga’s conditions, he would accept that and give it to someone else. He was very generous and sharing.”
From the early 1970s, Hollard Gardens were regularly opened to the public on Labour weekends as a fundraising project for the Kaponga Lions Club. It was a mutually beneficial arrangement.
Garden maintenance was carried out by Bernie Hollard with a long-handled saw and a short saw. The association with the Lions meant that if there was heavy work to do, like dealing with a tree that had come down, a group of Lions would come to help. They would chainsaw the tree and take it away.
In recognition of this association, Bernie Hollard was made “an honorary Lion”.
Hollard Gardens was always a private garden but visitors were welcome. Enthusiastic gardeners, professional horticulturalists and ornithologists visited by appointment, and in the peak season, chartered busloads of visitors arrived.
Young Milton and Thoron Hollard enthusiastically counted the numbers of cars and buses that arrived with visitors on Labour weekends in the mid-1960s heyday of the gardens.
At one time, they counted two buses and 32 cars.
-- researched and written by Susette Goldsmith