Growing a town full of veggies
reports on a man’s life in the garden.
The people of Tokoroa will have to go elsewhere to get plants to grow their five plus a day with avid gardener Graham Dunstall announcing his retirement.
For over 30 years the former Tokoroa North School teacher has sold flower and vegetable seedlings at his Paraonui St home but on approaching his 80th birthday he’s decided to call it a day to spend more time with family.
Over the years his section has grown into nothing short of a masterpiece which would not seem out of place on the pages of New Zealand House and Garden.
With hand-trimmed buxus hedging, manicured lawns, an abundance of flowers, recycled concrete paths, and mature trees the property is a real picture.
Carefully tucked down the back is the massive vegetable garden featuring two glasshouses filled with grapes, strawberries, zucchini, and several varieties of tomatoes. Outside are rows of potatoes, lettuce, cauliflower, broccoli, and cabbage.
Dunstall, who spends five to six hours every day working in his garden, said he will miss the social side of selling his seedlings which he said started off as nothing more than a hobby.
‘‘Growing a few plants was a hobby which I took down to Bryan’s Plant Shop in Bridge St to sell,’’ he said.
‘‘Over the years it grew and grew and I had more and more people coming to buy plants so I put a sign out on the road.’’
‘‘I’ve had customers coming back year after year and not only would they buy a few plants we would have a bit of a talk and pass the time of the day.’’
‘‘People would come to ask questions about growing things and from time to time they’d bring a sample of something and ask what was wrong with it and how they could fix it. I also visited places and advised where to put gardens and what to grow.’’
‘‘I enjoyed helping people and I will probably miss that contact but it’s just become too much for me now,’’ he said.
He encouraged younger generations to take up gardening which he said he will still continue to do on a smaller scale.
‘‘A lot of people say you can’t have a garden in Tokoroa because it can be fairly harsh in the winter but I say come and have a look at my garden because you can, you just have to select the right kinds of plants and have a good situation for them,’’ he said.
‘‘You don’t need a very big spot for a garden so my parting words are to encourage children to take up gardening. It doesn’t require a lot of time, 10 to 15 minutes a day is enough to take care of things,’’ he said.
‘‘I enjoyed helping people and I will probably miss that contact.’’ Graham Dunstall
Graham Dunstall is retiring from selling plant seedlings from his Tokoroa home after more than 30 years.