Flora by name and nature

Flora Lyons has been cultivating her Pakenham garden for 15 years. 186134_03 Pictures: KYRA GILLESPIE

Living up to her name, Pakenham resident Flora Lyons has put her passion for gardening to work in an effort to liven up the community.

For the last two years Ms Lyons has been preparing around 40 boxes full of plants to beautify Pakenham’s Main Street.

“I kept nagging the council to do something nice for the Main Street of Pakenham,” Ms Lyons said.

“It’s such an ugly street and the residents deserve better. I suggested flowers and they finally agreed as long as I volunteered to supply them.

“I’ve been potting up boxes with cuttings from my garden for about two years; it’s kept me very busy.”

Ms Lyons has so many planter boxes that she’s had to store them at her neighbour’s house. Her garage is full of pots and soil.

Her Pakenham home is entirely encased by garden; on one side of her house, an azalea around seven feet tall is in full bloom.

“This is no ordinary little azalea; in fact, I think it’s the biggest one I’ve ever seen,” Ms Lyons said proudly.

A sliding door on the other side of the house leads into an undercover area lined with rich greenery and aromatic blooms.

A small path leading under a leafy archway leads to the back garden, where fruit and vegetables are growing.

“I think the flowers know I love them,” Ms Lyons said.

For Flora, gardening isn’t only in her name, but in her blood.

“My dad was an avid gardener, so growing up gardening has always been a part of my life. When I was 5 years old he set me up with my own little garden with plants and vegetables that grew quickly.

“As I got older I would work alongside him, and I’ve carried that knowledge into the rest of my life.

“I’ve also done a lot of travelling to gardens all over the world. I think my favourite ones have been in England and France.”

Her advice to first-time gardeners is to accept that it may not always go right the first time.

“You have to learn by your mistakes; you can and will lose plants, but you will win eventually by learning what goes well in your garden and what doesn’t.

“You’ve just got to get in there, get dirty and give it a go. And don’t forget to water them.”