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Hogan Gill isn’t your garden variety daffodil grower.
Daffodil farming seems an unlikely occupation to take up by accident, but it’s one Hogan Gill stumbled upon – literally.
The former scuba diving instructor was back from living overseas, and helping his parents move from Auckland to Ōhau, south of Levin. The five acres they’d purchased had been owned by an avid daffodil farmer, who grew them to compete, rather than sell. “He was purely in it for the love of it and had his heart set on producing the best-looking blooms,” says Hogan.
The family assumed the bulbs would have been taken away when the property changed hands. However, when spring arrived, Hogan was pleasantly surprised by acres of yellow flowers. After a few days “frolicking in the fields”, Hogan “fairly quickly fell in love with the little buggers. Hard to not be impressed by all these prize-winning beauties popping up in the backyard.”
Five years later, Hogan swapped the sea for the land to become “The Daffadude.” Eight (or ten, if he’s lucky) weeks a year, he sells his blooms up and down the Kāpiti Coast and in Wellington. He typically starts picking in late July, although “daffs make up their own mind when it comes to the timing of the season.”
The hundreds of thousands of bulbs and haphazard planting he inherited mean plenty of surprises for him and his customers. His favourite variety is Trigonometry – a coral split-cup flower that blooms into a vibrant pink (but is no use for calculating angles).
Picking is a ritual, and Hogan’s happy place. “On a good day’s pick, I’m walking about in the sunshine through a sea of colour, filling loads of buckets as I tune out to my tunes.” Although Wellington’s changeable spring weather can pose challenges, the payoff for Hogan is the smiling faces of his customers. “People will stop in their tracks to just stare and smile at my daffodil display.”
Hogan’s weekends are often workdays, spent surrounded by buckets of daffs at Saturday markets in Waikanae, then picking for and selling at the Sunday Harbourside Market in Wellington. If he sells out early, he wanders along the waterfront, accompanied by his pooch (or as he calls her, “Daffadog”) Koa.
When the season is over, Hogan’s weekends are still busy with his other occupation, as a wedding celebrant. Another career he apparently fell into, when a chance encounter with some forgotten clerical robes led to his officiating at his sister’s wedding.
His success at this event led to a string of requests, prompting him to take up the role on the regular. He’s since donned everything from a suit to Jedi robes to help people tie the knot, and has added wedding-day coordination and MC services to his skill set.
Daffodils and weddings have proven a harmonious seasonal pairing. “By the time weddings have died down in April or May, I’m prepping the fields for the next round of daffs. And after packing down for my last market in early October, I’m donning the suit for a wedding that afternoon. The two professions merge serendipitously well.”