Willow ocicat Asmera in the background
Artists Bernard and Sharon Carroll, both 66, specifically designed their Tasmanian home to house more than 120 houseplants and their all-consuming creative pursuits. Bernard, a former veterinarian, and Sharon, a microbiologist, are now full-time artists and self-proclaimed “retirees.”
BERNARD CARROLL: We moved here for the lifestyle, the weather and the art environment. We didn’t have great success in Christchurch, but we did have great success here with our art.
The house was designed by us about eight years ago. Before that we were in Prebbleton and before that we had a cattery in Mairehau (Christchurch). We survived the earthquake there.
Sharon makes glass mosaics that involve a lot of glass cutting… and a lot of bloodletting.
* It’s winter and your indoor plants are freezing too
* ‘I remodeled my new home to make the most of my houseplants’
* Why I Live in an Orange House
And I do mixed media, so texture and sometimes acrylic painting. We sell through cafes, exhibitions and our website bernardcarroll.co.nz.
I absolutely don’t miss being a vet one bit. I’ve grown into someone who can’t stand seeing animals hurt or suffering and of course as a vet you have to give them shots and stuff. I was too protective, that was the problem. This happened gradually over 21 years.
Here we have built a large studio and a large garden room. I have over 100 houseplants there and am always trying to collect more. Sharon must be my handbrake.
i am a taurus I love nature, I love trees and that brings a bit of nature into the house. And I think it’s part of my creativity. In my art I have specialized in trees and native birds, tuī and peacock tails.
I use a lot of dried foliage, bark and leaves. I get this from the garden; we have a quarter of an acre here.
We get up around 7 and then we have breakfast and either do gardening if it’s a nice day and if it’s not nice we do art.
We’ve had a lot of orders lately. So we couldn’t let it fly. We made things according to people’s wishes.
I’m working on one where the client’s late mother squeezed all these ferns into a phone book and wants to incorporate them into a bush scene, so I’m just trying to figure out what to do with them.
Sharon’s latest commission is a large mirror surrounded by clematis, ferns and native birds.
We’ve been together for 47 years. We were each other’s first love. We met at Massey University when we were 18 and married when we were 21.
We look back on our life and think it’s exactly how we wanted it to be. We did everything we wanted on time and we don’t regret any of our steps. It’s teamwork through and through.
We have no children. That was a well-considered decision. Our brothers and sisters have all had children; There are many children there.
We just don’t care about babies. Someone shows us a puppy or a kitten, we get all sticky about it. But no babies.
We have had 29 cats and four dogs so far. They took all our love and gave it back tenfold.
Once we had 10 cats and two dogs. Now we only have three cats, Ocicats. They are absolutely adorable, like dogs.
This unique Christchurch café serves coffee and scones with a side of Swiss cheese plant and a smorgasbord of potted treasures that would whet the appetite of any houseplant lover.
I have all sorts of plants, almost every kind, but I don’t want Monstera. People don’t know how big they are getting.
I’m a real Scrooge. I rarely buy anything over $30 and those that cost up to $100 I buy small and just let them grow big.
I also propagate a lot and this really annoys Sharon because instead of one plant of the species I have five. I sell them, I give them away.
I also have bonsai, about 30, and some are about 80 years old. It’s not really difficult.
My favorite of these is the Kōwhai. They’re pretty good at making their own wiggles, twirls, and squiggles.
Just like art, it’s nice to be creative.