Aimée Rafini poses with her beloved marigolds at her South Auckland home.
Aimée Rafini is a design director, content creator and art journalist. She is the force behind evil of art, which supports artists and creates artistic events. She lives and gardens in South Auckland with her dog and cat.
when i was a brownie I took the other Brownies to my house to show them my thoughts. I was very proud of my little plot. I had my hands in the dirt at a very young age and it’s amazing how much you get back. I had a beautiful early childhood and I think I’m basically recreating that in my house and garden.
My mother came from London. She was a classic 60s jet set boomer and adventurer. She met my dad at a scuba diving course in Australia. Dad is a sixth-generation Kiwi, or something like that. They were a beautiful young couple, then moved to New Zealand and had three children.
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I look at mothers now and understand so much about mom. She was a fabulous, daring young woman who found herself with three children under the age of 5 in Auckland, thousands of miles from where she had lived. It was isolating and probably a bit of a culture shock. She now lives in Gloucestershire. My parents divorced and they both remarried.
My father is a classic entrepreneur, for better or for worse. I guess it was in the 80s that it really became possible for someone to make their own way by doing loads of cool stuff everywhere. He was a self-made man, driving a Porsche he had brought back from England. He had an oyster farm. I spent 50% of my youth in Mahurangi eating oysters on the mudflats.
I have always drawn. My dad said I sat in the corner and watched everyone until I was 2 years old. I didn’t even crawl. It was like I was born to go to art school. So I went to Elam full of dreams, expecting Dadaists and Surrealists, and was bitterly disappointed. After art school, I took time off and worked. I have always crossed creative and commercial work and enjoyed being able to earn a living. Artists are entrepreneurs after all. Well, I sure am.
i was trying desperately to get my shit together to get into a house and my career had reached a level where I could “save,” but I just watched in horror as house prices rose and rose. It’s a very negative visualization but I thought I was going to die on the side of the road. I wouldn’t be here without my mother’s help. It was scary. I am so grateful to my mother and I am so lucky.
I have a huge problem and worrying about the well-being of the next generation, house prices are just ripping the rug out from under them and I know the anxiety. It needs to change. People are in such vulnerable situations. I’ve had people come to see a room for rent in my current place and they’re in their late 50s.
I’m happy like Larry Where I am now. I have never lived in such a beautiful community in my life. They take care of me, I feel so taken care of here. All the houses are like drawings I made when I was little. And they all have good old pieces of land. Watering the garden is therefore a half-hour job. Weeding takes half a day. I got into it massively.
Being single is interesting. I’ve always been a bit of a lone ranger and maybe that’s just me. I like not having to consider someone else’s energy. But then, I would like a partner. Just having someone to sit with and make sarcastic comments on the TV news, who doesn’t want that?
I tried Tinder and it was OK for a while, but then I woke up in the morning to dirty, drunk text messages from a potential suitor, and I’m very into the intellect so… I’ve also met men who were still living with their partner – are you kidding me? Don’t waste my time and energy! I don’t like tire kickers, I want an adult. The whole process is so exhausting. You have to send messages and do all that and I have plants to care for and animals and artists to care for.
The garden has proven itself be this wonderful delight. Especially during lockdown I was constantly there and people were coming and going. I made lots of friends. All the children know my name and the names of my cat and my dog and I know all their animals.
The hydrangeas came in first. Then a lot of people brought plants, so I got natives, ferns and all. Of course, worries. As I do with many things, I got into growing marigolds from seed and did not read the package or relate all the seeds to the number of plants that would grow. But I talked to them and fed them and I like to think that’s why they were so bright and wonderful.
Gardening is so healthy. And I think something about it is really healing. We are told in life that if you work hard and are diligent, you will be rewarded. But life is not like that, people can work hard and not hope for a house and sometimes the wrong people are rewarded.
I think that’s one of the hardest things I’ve found to deal with as an adult. But with gardening, you reap what you sow. Plants are not Machiavellian, well, some overseas insects maybe, but not plants.
sorry to continue about my worries, but I can’t quite explain how blown away they blew me and my street, if I can be the spokesperson for my street. We had no rain for a long time and these marigolds just popped and the surface of their petals was like velvet.
Aimée Rafini is on the road from August 1 to do the Coastal Arts Trailan art lovers journey through the regions of Manawatū, Whanganui and Taranaki.
Aimée’s gardening tips
Don’t neglect your native trees. Yes, they are strong and resilient and amazing, but they still need to be fed and watered.
Plant a ground cover for less weed control. There are beautiful ones like native mint.
Plant plants that support and protect other plants. Lavender, basil and marigolds are three that work well with other plants in a vegetable garden.