Primm & Proper
Your Home and Garden|December 2018
Primm & Proper

Business meets leisure at florist Milly Van Der Hoeven’s open-plan Pirongia haven, where flowers bloom with abandon and the holiday season is rooted in family traditions

Debbie Harrison
For Milly Van Der Hoeven, Paul Johnson and their three kids, it’s not Christmas until their home is filled with the scent of pine.

“We hand-pick a real tree every year as a family – it has to be a real one,” smiles Milly. The family look forward to their annual outing to The Christmas Tree Farm in Hamilton, where they carefully choose that year’s pine tree, before hauling it back to their Pirongia home to decorate.

It’s not just the fragrance of pine that wafts through their Waikato abode at Christmas. Their 170-square-metre Lockwood home sits on an acre of land, much of it planted in roses, dahlias, annuals, perennials, herbs and foliage for their flower-farm business, Primm Gardens. Here, Milly grows (and designs) seasonal blooms for weddings, events, wholesale orders and Christmas displays.

“In December, I go to town, filling the house with floral wreaths, garlands and arrangements, as well as large bowls of fresh fruit and nuts,” she says. “It smells wonderful!”

Although Primm Gardens has more than 500 roses in 70 varieties, it’s dahlias that are the focus of Milly’s own Christmas floral arrangements. “At that time of the year, the dahlias are just starting to bloom. There is such a wide variety of forms and colours to play with, so it’s fun creating with them!”

PRESENTS OF MIND When asked what she loves about Christmas, Milly laughs. “Everything! I’ve always loved Christmas. It’s a magic time for kids, and as parents we get to relive that joy and excitement with them. It’s my favourite time of year.”

The kids all get new pyjamas on Christmas Eve and they all hang out as a family, playing board games and watching Home Alone as they wait for the man in red. For Christmas Day, Milly continues an old family tradition in which the children exchange gifts with each other. “I’m the eldest of five and as young kids we would always hunt out a gift for each other at Christmas. Our three now do the same. It’s awesome watching them take time to think about their siblings, to make or find them something heartfelt, and to focus on giving rather than receiving,” she says.

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December 2018