Nun recognised for services to gardening

MICHAEL DALY
Last updated 15:57 21/03/2014
Sister loyola
KEVIN STENT/Fairfax NZ
HONOURED: "I think it [gardening] can be a charitable work as well," Sister Loyola says.

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Sister Loyola Galvin may be in retirement but she is still gardening.

The nun in her early 90s was invested by Governor-General Sir Jerry Mateparae in a ceremony at Government House today. She was made a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to gardening.

For more than 15 years she tended the gardens at Our Lady's Home of Compassion in Island Bay on Wellington's south coast. Surplus vegetables produced in the garden were donated to a soup kitchen which served a hot meal each evening for 60 to 100 people.

She was New Zealand Gardener magazine's gardener of the year in 2008, and a documentary called Gardening With Soul was made about her.

In recent months she has moved to the sisters' retirement complex in Silverstream.

"I still do some gardening," she said after today's ceremony.

Part of that involved growing flowers to help the bees.

"It's such a necessity to take care of the bees, and look after them, and have as many as you can," Sister Loyola said.

Island Bay had four beehives and efforts were being made to get more hives at Silverstream.

"It's a big property and the more bees you can look after it's good for everything," she said.

Bees generally were having a tough time "but so far ours seem to be doing all right".

Sister Loyola said she was pleased gardening was recognised in the honours.

At first it "seemed rather a strange thing" to be mentioned on the honours list alongside "all these people doing their wonderful charitable work".

"But I think it [gardening] can be a charitable work as well, specially with older people who have become a bit bored if they have to give up their main work.

"If they can garden, even in a small way, it's growing life, and it's very healthy," she said.

Older people were not the only ones were interested in gardening. Young people were also keen to talk to her about it.

"I think a lot of younger people now don't want their children to be brought up on food that has had poison sprayed over them," Sister Loyola said.

"I think that's why even people in flats are trying to work out how to have gardens in pots and various things, and grow their own veges."

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