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Gardening a communal activity for Petal Power winner

He’s already legendary among Parkhaven residents for his culinary prowess, and now Peter Johnson’s skills in the garden are under the spotlight.

Peter is this year’s winner of the Petal Power competition run by Hastings District Council for its nine senior housing complexes located in Hastings, Havelock North and Flaxmere.

The numbers participating are growing each year with 135 entries compared to 95 last year, representing more than half the total residents across all the facilities.

Made up of both new and experienced gardeners, they compete for the accolade of best looking garden, either as an individual or the complex as a whole.

It’s all about getting outdoors, being active, and promoting a sense of community among residents. It’s also a way for the council to thank residents for their hard work keeping Hastings beautiful.

Parkhaven won the best overall complex in last year’s competition and Peter, who has been living there for about eight years, was highly commended.

This year, however, his efforts were rewarded with the top prize in recognition of the green oasis he has created not only around his unit, but also stretching out over an adjacent communal area and around his neighbour’s residence as well.

Peter declares he absolutely loves living at Parkhaven, and his place has become the social epicentre for many in the complex.

“Last night there were eight of us on the patio enjoying some pavlova – it’s all about bringing the community together,” he says.

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He’s the only one of his family to be enthusiastic about gardening, a passion he says he inherited as a young boy from his mother.

There’s anything from lilies to pansies and sweetpeas in his flower gardens, and the vegetable gardens are also well underway with kumara, Māori potatoes and more.

“I love to see things grow, it doesn’t matter what it is – I’m always clipping away, I probably spend 20 to 30 hours a week pottering, doing little bits at a time.”

He also helps other residents with advice and they swap plants and tips, making it a truly communal activity.

This adds to the enjoyment gardening brings him, he says.

“We’re getting geared up for the Christmas party on the patio now, we will get the barbecue out. We are so lucky to be living here with a roof over our heads, safe and looked after.”

While Peter was this year’s individual winner, Elm Grove in Akina took the best complex title.

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