Cheryl Lucas | Sculptor and ceramic artist

Lyttelton, Christchurch, New Zealand | April 2012

‘Gardening to me is about feeding yourself – I couldn’t go and buy a bunch of silverbeet.’... more words below images...

Cheryl Lucas Sculptor and ceramic artist | Lyttelton, Christchurch, New Zealand | April 2012

We have had our ¾ acre garden on a south west facing slope in Lyttleton since 1987. My partner Peter Rough and I built it together. On average we spend about 2 hours a week in it. Most things grow well. We have parsley everywhere as it freely self-seeds – its an indicator of good soil. One thing that doesn’t do so well is asparagus which is a bit of a mystery to us.

My main inspiration is my mother Elsie – she is a stunner. Brought up on a high country sheep station with adverse, very dry growing conditions, she has always had stunning gardens. I remember mum growing aubergines ornamentally, not knowing what they were for. She always could and still does grow everything – even at 85. I remember growing broad beans with my father aged 12 – we’d compete to grow the tallest plant. Another really important early memory for me is visiting my grandfather and seeing several different apples all on the same tree, I must have been pretty small then - possibly 4 or 5 - grandfather grafted several varieties onto one tree.

I love the setting of our garden and its aspect. In the natural amphitheatre of the harbour it gets all that afternoon sun on it. Its really good in the morning during summer when you can get a lot done before the sun comes round and makes it almost too hot to be out there.

The only real chore is moving things around the garden, the sheer physical thing of taking things up and down the hill. It all takes time.

Spring is my favourite season, its pretty amazing – that whole thing of the new growth is stunning here.

The garden gives me a break from purely head work and it is important for our marriage, it is a place where we can both work together. We like to have friends round. I had a 100 people here to celebrate winning a sculpture award. We have spent many years and the feeling of having been here for a long time has its own rewards. We know we planted those mature trees that the birds returned to after the earthquake.

Things don’t always go right. We have had the odd slug and snail problem. I go out at night with a torch and a shoe and slap the buggers on the stone walls. But I guess they have got to live too.

The advice I would give anyone is don’t be fussy – just do it!