• A Moroccan-inspired collection in Horst’s courtyard, photo by Horst.
  • Christmas Day snowfall, 1989; First Winter snowfall. Fall is aptly named as the leaves swirl in great heaps, and the oil bill rises; Cove House dressed for fall, with oaks, maples, and dogwoods creating a tapestry of colour.
  • Bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, our quartet on tour with Two’s Company. Wheels courtesy of Ford, 1955.
  • Jessica Tcherepnine created this wreath of favourite ariculas for me.
  • First Christmas card, Barry’s Flower Shop opens for business.


 Barry’s passion for plants, particularly flowers, began at the same time as his first memories. He toddled around the garden after his mother learning which weeds to pull, the names of his favourite flowers and marvelling at their variety in form, colour and fragrance.
 In his teenage years Barry was an avid tramper and developed a botanical interest in New Zealand’s unique flowering plants. “We have the world’s biggest fuchsia, a tree up to four metres, which towers above the world’s smallest fuchsia, an elegant groundcover. The snowy white clematis festooning the forest canopy in spring is always a pleasure, as is our New Zealand Christmas tree, pohutukawa, which flowers in a blaze of scarlet right on target. Flowers of the golden kowhai are a knock-out in late spring. We claim several unique small orchids and, in the off-shore Chatham Islands, the world’s largest, and most intensely blue, forgetme- not.”
 It was logical that Barry would train as a florist and, in doing so, his knowledge of flowers and botany grew. He opened Barry’s Flower Shop in Christchurch, aged 22, had a radio programme, Doing flowers with Barry Ferguson, aged 23 and gave classes in floral art.
 But he was not always content in provincial New Zealand. He wondered if he would ever see rhododendrons flowering in the Himalayas, bromeliads in the rainforest of Brazil and the surreal cactus of Mexico’s dry deserts.
 Barry left New Zealand in 1962 with a one way ticket to the world. He wanted to see what grew along the road side, in farmers’ fields and foreign forests. He especially wanted to visit classic gardens of the old world and get first-hand experience of new and different approaches to garden design and floral art.
 A job offer in New York opened exciting challenges. Barry loved all the Big Apple had to offer. With hard work, creativity and charm he soon had his own company, J Barry Ferguson Flowers Ltd, and designed gardens and floral installations for special events. David Rockefeller, Horst, Billy Joel, Malcom Forbes, Steven Spielberg and many others of the New York high-fliers were his clients.
 Never one to relax for long, when New York was frozen over, Barry joined botanical tours to extraordinary places; Madagascar, Bhutan, China, South Africa and, very often, to his beloved New Zealand.
 After 32 years in full-on New York, a heart attack told him it was time to slow down and go home. He returned to New Zealand and began creating an extensive garden, filled with his favourite flowers, in Mahurangi, north of Auckland.
 Barry is a marvellous raconteur and Flowers are my Passport is a pacey romp through his life and his world of flowers.

Flowers are my passport