She call herself a “creator”, rather than a florist. And there is no secret to Victoria’s Garden – it’s just about nurturing her plants with love.
“Plants are my babies,” says Victoria Charles. “They are my babies.”
She walks along her garden, explaining how plants must be taken care of, when she suddenly stops and turns to talk to a plant that she sees starting to wilt.
She apologises to the plant and promises that she will be back.
While some may have their own ways of looking after their plants, Charles has a different way of showing love to her “babies”.
Located on the south side of Rarotonga next to the Avaavaroa Passage, the camouflaged landscape and designs of Victoria’s Garden is not hard to miss.
Her little green hut-like structure is surrounded by flowers, plants of different varieties, but most of all Charles’ favourite – anthuriums. Known to some as the lace leaf or flamingo flower, you will spot these flowers in the nursery house next to the hut.
“I didn’t always love flowers,” she says. “I’m more a cultural person, I love dancing, love our culture and it just started from that, the love for colours and that’s how I began to create my own costumes.”
When she returned from America more than 10 years ago, in her passion for designing and creating something different, the first thing she made was a role for herself.
“I returned and created myself a job,” she laughs. “But it is dad who has the green thumb in the family.”
Coming from a family of 10 siblings, Charles says planting runs in her family.
“It is really more dad, and for me it is a hobby and following dad’s footsteps. I returned to Rarotonga to look after mum and dad,” she says. “Mum was sick so I came home.”
Charles recalls that during one of her frequent visits from America, they decided to build a greenhouse for her dad and when she finally returned she began to collect a variety of flowers including anthuriums.
They didn’t start Victoria’s Garden as a business but more of a passion, where visitors would pop in to see what kind of plants were available and have a chat with her.
Charles does sell some of her plants, but this depends on how many more she has. Being a florist (or creator!) she also makes bouquets of flowers, corsage and head pieces.
She offers a variety of authentic tropical flower arrangement services.
Her floral arrangements and head pieces are absolutely beautiful and one of her creations was for a Miss Cook Islands contestant two years ago, for the Miss Rakei Wearable Arts Competition.
“I'm a creator, I create things, I just love flowers.”
FIVE HANDY FACTS
Some of Charles’ plants are found inland, such as ginger plants and heliconia, she says.
1. For cactus, she explains they need to be kept moist most of the year, surprisingly, and need strong light. During winter, she stops watering them.
2. It’s important to put a saucer under every pot plant, Charles says. When watering your plants, the saucer fills with water. If it dries up, then the plant needs water. “When there is no water on the base you will know they need water.
3. They will also want space to spread and grown. She picks the baby shoots to replant, giving space to the plant to grow.
4. She moves her plants around to get more sun, or sometimes to keep them away from sunshine, thus giving the plants a different colour.