Begonia garden a colourful sanctuary

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Gaynor and Lester Hurst relax in their blooming good begonia garden in Allenton.

Lester and Gaynor Hurst have created a colourful begonia sanctuary in the front of their Balmoral Place garden.

The garden features hundreds of examples of the flower and is a calming place to sit.

Begonias feature in pots and hanging baskets and Lester is the man to tend and look after them.

Although blind in one and with foggy vision in the other, he can still see some colour and carefully ties up the flowers if they become too heavy.

He is hopeful a cornea sliver transplant at the end of the month can help improve the vision in his right eye.

But he has already taken around 100 cuttings to plant next season.

The visual feast of begonias usually runs from January to April and among the varieties are some flowers with a scent.

A particular favourite this year for Lester is the red and white Matthew Wilsmore variety and the orange crush.

Last year things were not looking quite so good in the begonia garden, he said.

“The flowers were too cramped and the shade cloth was dirty, but this year has been a different story and it’s looking good.”

Lester said with his eyesight issues, a watering system had been introduced for the begonias.

Previously it had taken him hours to water by hand.

His love affair with begonias started 25 years ago.

He and Gaynor had moved to their current home 12 years ago because of the potential of the sheltered, private front garden.

They had quickly transformed it and have been enjoying the annual blooming spectacle ever since.

Begonias are heavy flowers and 90 per cent water, but don’t need feeding, said Lester.

“They’re like spuds, in that they have tubers that send the stems up.”

The Hursts are part of the Christchurch Begonia Club and recently 35 fellow club members checked out their Allenton garden.

A love of begonias has also opened up garden gates in England, where the couple have been welcomed and received by fellow enthusiasts on a few occasions.

“We sell a few flowers each year, but really it’s about us enjoying the colourful blooms,” said Lester said.

-By Mick Jensen