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Gardening with Gael - Green fingers and an amazing work ethic


thumbnail Barbara Hockenhull-312Barbara Elizabeth Hockenhull. Last week family and friends said goodbye to this dearly loved, clever, creative woman.

Known for her original handcrafted pottery, Barbara had many other interests including gardening, music and Ikebana, the Japanese art of flower arrangement. Together with her husband Barry they were founder members of the co-operative pottery in Albany back in the 70s. From there they opened a shop in the old Sunday School Hall at Wayby, south of Wellsford. There, on a difficult sloping clay bank, they managed, within a few years, to create an amazing garden with all sorts of exotic plant life flourishing. Barry was initially the driving force in the gardens while their three children were small but once Barbara joined him one of her close friends described them as a dynamic force. Green fingers and an amazing work ethic are hard to beat.

Barb’s mother had ignited her interest in Ikebana which resulted in the quirky and unique pots she continued to create for the rest of her life. At that time I bought a remarkable tube circle which made flower arranging exciting. During this time Barry and Barbara visited Japan many times and the Japanese influence was evident in their pottery from shapes to glazes. Scott and Aaron joined them on one trip. Mel says she had to stay home because of exams!

For many years Barbara was a member of the New Zealand Iris Society and a very active member of the Mid North Group. A fellow member of this group recalls when she and Barb decided to attend their first National Iris Convention in Gisborne. The plan was that they would drive around the East Cape en route to Gisborne and explore the area. Barb, an avid beachcomber, soon loaded the car with wonderful ‘finds’ of driftwood until there was little space left. During the convention she was delighted to find and acquire lots of special plants from the various sales tables. At the usual iris auction at the close of the convention, Barb, an enthusiastic bidder, was thrilled to secure many interesting irises to add to her collection. On the last day she achieved the miraculous feat of getting all these treasures into the small car, driftwood poking out windows! Irises were tipped out of their pots, wrapped into newspaper and tucked in amongst the driftwood which all found their way into her garden.

Granddaughter Hannah declares that her gardening has been influenced by her grandmother. I have always believed ‘green fingers’ directly correlates to confidence. This idea is reinforced by Hannah.

“Gran is a very old fashioned gardener, i.e. dig a hole, shove it in and cover it up and watch it blossom... she had a true love for mother nature and floral beauty.”

Skills have been handed down the generations ensuring Barbara’s memory will live on through her descendants.

Many of us visited the Pipi Gallery just to see her floral arrangements. Her fellow Ikebana members acknowledged her distinctive flair with her arrangements and she planted many unusual camellias which regularly featured. Branches that twisted or divaricated, blossoms from japonicas, camellias, roses and a myriad of others, leaves and stems from her garden would all be used, which is why her garden featured so many unusual plants.

Most importantly we will remember Barb for her kind, generous and compassionate nature. In the words of her dear friend Gail Hodgkinson:

Rere atu i nga anahera aue. Barb tino ataahua. Fly with the angels beautiful Barb.

Barbara Elizabeth Hockenhull, 28 July 1937 – 19 July 2020. PHOTO/SUPPLIED

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