In­spired by her gar­den ob­sessed dad

with Erica Neustadt of Change4 Chal­font

Buckinghamshire Advertiser - - GREEN SPACES -

ICOME from a fam­ily of gar­den­ers. My sib­lings tend their gar­dens, mak­ing them beau­ti­ful or fruit­ful, shar­ing with me crops of the big­gest red­cur­rants you ever saw and gen­er­ally hum­bling me when I con­sider the con­trast with my pa­thetic ef­forts.

My fa­ther was a gar­dener too. Hav­ing fled Nazi Ger­many as a boy, he grew up in the Mid­dle East and one of his var­i­ous jobs was in a plant nurs­ery, in a small vil­lage near, now a sub­urb of, Tel Aviv.

Maybe that was where he dis­cov­ered his love of plants. His amaz­ing mem­ory cat­e­gorised and stored their names, what was in­dige­nous and what grew in which type of soil.

Com­ing to Eng­land via Liver­pool Docks as a young man, he ended up liv­ing near Kew Gar­dens and many evenings af­ter work ng the grounds and en­houses, im­prov­ing his nowl­edge of the ex­otic and the anal.

Grow­ing up, we al­ways had a busy, hap­pen­ing gar­den. There were seedlings, oly­tun­nels, fab­u­lous crops, ants go­ing in, plants com­ing out, ac­cord­ing to the sea­son. Cut­tings taken on hol­i­days would be planted and nur­tured at home, de­light taken when against the odds they sur­vived.

Our gar­den was aflame with Canna lilies, be­fore they be­came a staple of ur­ban round­abouts; we tended fledg­ling cof­fee plants, figs and olives.

Per­son­ally, I pre­ferred a book, a toy, or a wa­ter fight in the gar­den. When­ever I of­fered to help, I would be asked to weed; my heart would sink and I would slope off as soon I thought that I was un­no­ticed. My par­ents got around this by giv­ing me my own lit­tle gar­den patch to tend. When I weeded that I didn’t mind so much.

In many ways, my fa­ther’s life story re­flects the 20th cen­tury his­tory of Europe. He once said to me that as a dis­placed person, his gar­den was the clos­est thing to roots he had.

Even when elderly, he man­aged it him­self, truss­ing up toma­toes vines in the green­house, per­suad­ing his huge and ec­cen­tric lawn mower to cut his large lawn, and man­ag­ing his roses.

More re­cently, he took plea­sure in just be­ing, watch­ing the leaves and buds un­furl, a new summer’s crop de­velop.

I will al­ways think of him, walk­ing up from the gar­den to the house, the sun on his back. May he be happy in his gar­den for ever.

Erica Neustadt is a lawyer by trade. She has al­ways been pas­sion­ate about green is­sues and was a found­ing mem­ber of Chal­font4Change, an en­vi­ron­men­tal group, in 2009. She

lives in the vil­lage with her hus­band, Hugh, two chil­dren, two cats and 15 chick­ens. The slugs are

too nu­mer­ous to men­tion

Hans Neustadt’s gar­den was al­ways aflame with Canna lilies

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