20 Nov 2021

The flower giver: Spreading joy, one bunch at a time

5:55 pm on 20 November 2021

A Tairua woman picked and delivered more than 300 bunches of flowers for people in her town in just two weeks with the sole purpose of spreading joy.

Linda Hart with some of the flowers she delivered to people around Tairua

Linda Hart with some of the flowers she delivered to people around Tairua Photo: SUPPLIED

Linda Hart usually spends hours a day gardening at her home in Tairua, overlooking the harbour. But for two weeks in early November she picked her flowers instead - buckets and buckets full - made bouquets and drove around the small Coromandel town delivering them to deserving residents.

She did it all for free - for the sole purpose of bringing joy to people who needed cheering up.

The retired nurse put a call out on the local Facebook page asking for nominations.

"If you know of someone in Tairua that is having a hard time or is sick please ring me and I will make you a bunch at no charge," she wrote.

After 42 requests, she posted "no more please", but that's when the phone started ringing.

"They ring me and say 'please take my mum a bunch of flowers for me, I'm missing her', and so I just do it and I say 'these are from Bethany in Western Australia' and then they burst out crying and tell me all about her."

The requests kept rolling in. There were people separated by Covid-19 restrictions in New Zealand who nominated loved ones they could not see, from family living overseas who had not seen their elderly parents in years, or their children. There was the niece who nominated her aunt who was turning 95, the friend who was nominated because "she's knits for prem babies, makes bags for the locals to avoid plastic and cooks for people", someone who had a recent health scare, another whose mother recently died, and a couple who were celebrating their 67th wedding anniversary.

Some of the bunches Linda Hart picked, made and delivered

Some of the bunches Linda Hart picked, made and delivered Photo: SUPPLIED

Hart would stay up till the early hours of the morning sorting the flowers, and had to buy more buckets to keep them in. While she has a garden full of flowers - thousands of roses, gerberas and "everything in between" - she had only ever been given two bunches herself and knew the delight it brings.

"I just thought there are some needy people, some missing their kids, some sick. I just thought I'd take them a bunch of flowers. I never thought it would be that huge," she said.

"It gave them so much joy and there are so many people who don't have a lot of joy, because their children live overseas or their husband has died or they have ill health. It just made me feel really humbled and joyful as well. And I chat to them and sometimes have a cup of tea."

Donning a mask, Hart would turn up to people's homes and just tell them who the flowers were from - she didn't mention they were free, or from her garden.

But having lived in the community for 30 years, many locals knew who she was, including Sharni Champion, who was nominated by not just one person - but five.

Those who nominated her said they were proud of her for what she had achieved, for working hard and "turning her life into what she wants it to be".

The bunch Sharni Champion received

The bunch Sharni Champion received Photo: SUPPLIED

Champion, a volunteer fire fighter, said she was humbled by the gesture.

"It's just the way I was raised, but our whole community is like that. It's definitely been good because during this whole Covid thing there's been animosity between people."

In turn, Champion nominated a colleague - "one of the real good buggas" - and her friend Melissa Blomfield, who looks after her children while she works.

Blomfield had no idea she had been nominated when Hart turned up with flowers for her.

"I was totally blown away when she turned up with two of the most beautiful bouquets of flowers for me and told me what she was doing and that a few people had nominated me. She made my day, that's for sure.

"I think what she did was the most beautiful, kind, thoughtful thing ever. Flowers are beautiful and make everyone's day, especially home grown out of her garden."

Hart has returned to her gardening for now, and has booked a spot at the local market next month to sell flowers, with plans to most likely use the money to help others, just like she did when she sold $1200 worth in one day a couple years ago, using the money to send a container load of goods to Samoa during the measles epidemic there.

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