Summerset Village’s Mabel McAllister has been potting up a storm ahead of The Central Garden Group’s annual Spring Flower Show. Photo: Brittany Spencer.

95-year-old blooming for flower show


She is 95, the former mayoress of Kaiapoi, and has the greenest thumbs you’ll ever see.
Mabel McAllister has been interested in gardening her whole life.

But after dedicating her life to beautifying Kaiapoi she’s now turned her focus on Nelson.

Mabel has become a regular volunteer for the Nelson Central Garden Group after moving to Stoke following the Christchurch earthquakes.

She is talking plants, flowers, foliage and begonias ahead of the club’s annual Spring Flower Show.

“I’ve always been a person that loves beautification, my husband and I would have grown plants together for the town for almost 60 years before he died,” she says.

“We planted bulbs, flowers, plants and trees together, gardening has always been a big part of my life.”

Despite her age, Mabel is still mobile. She doesn’t have glasses or hearing aids and says the secret to keeping an active mind and body is definitely the gardening.

The Central Garden Group founder Barry Highsted says Mabel is so quick she gives the other members a run for their money.

“When she offered to help I didn’t think she’d turn up but she did and she was straight into the chair, ‘now come on!’ she said, she had these wee little tools and just boom, boom, boom, potted them all up in a flash.”

“She kept me motoring, I was mixing the compost and she kept saying, another pottle, another pottle, she would’ve done around 500 plants, I was exhausted by the time she was finished.”

“They didn’t think I could do it,” says Mabel. “They were definitely shocked by the end of it.”

Because of her health, Mabel was unable to attend last year’s show but is looking forward to seeing all the displays and blooms filling up the Stoke Methodist Church.

“I’ll definitely be there this year, it’s going to be marvellous, I’m looking forward to seeing all the displays.”

For the first time, the Spring Flower Show will bring together 17 gardening groups and ten churches to cover the church and car park in blooming displays and stalls.

The show will feature unique and unusual plants, a collectables corner, church floral art displays, and stalls with a variety of plants and cut flowers for sale including roses and orchids from the Heritage Rose Club and the Orchid Society.

“We’re a lot bigger this year, we’ve got so many other groups involved, live music, and an incredible amount of flowers and stalls, it’s going to look fantastic,” says Barry.

The Central Garden Group’s Spring Flower Show will run from 9am-3pm on Saturday, September 2 at the Stoke Methodist Church. Entry is $3 per person.