There’d be few tween Christmas wishlists with this sort of relentlessly green slant: a garden voucher (to buy dogwood or lemon myrtle), a rose, a magnolia plant, a Bulbs Direct voucher, a rhododendron, an asparagus crown, and The Abundant Garden by Niva and Yotam Kay.

The author of that 2021 list is Ed Malcolm-Tait, a 12-year-old Wellingtonian with a galloping dahlia obsession and a tendency to impulse-buy more seeds than he has soil for.

Malcolm-Tait fell dahlia-wards at the age of 10 when his Wadestown School teacher gave each student a dahlia seedling to grow. He had been mortified when it bowed its autumnal head. “I cried. I felt like I’d lost my best friend. I bought another one to keep it company. That was the moment I became addicted to flower gardening,” he recalls.

“I then went online and impulse-bought eight more tubers along with some gladioli. Slowly, the collection of pots on the deck started creeping down the stairs and onto the driveway. Every time I went to the garden center, I would come back laden with packets of seeds I had not intended to buy. Two years later, I have 32 dahlias and the huge problem of where to put them.”

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