George has 18 months vacation in Australia, thanks to Covid – The Royal Gazette

George Ogden, Retired Parks Superintendent (photo by Jessie Moniz Hardy)

George Ogden, Retired Parks Superintendent (photo by Jessie Moniz Hardy)

George Ogden, Retired Parks Superintendent (photo by Jessie Moniz Hardy)

George Ogden (Photo provided)

Retired Parks Superintendent George Ogden fell in love with gardening after receiving land in elementary school (Photo provided)

George and Sandra Ogden (Photo provided)

George and Sandra Ogden were in Australia to visit family when Covid-19 was declared a pandemic last year.

Due to the quarantine and subsequent travel restrictions, what was supposed to be a six-month stay quickly grew to eighteen.

“We were supposed to come back in April 2020,” said Mr. Ogden, 84. “But we had a hard time getting out.

“We had to get permission from the Australian government to stay. Then I had to renew my passport. Then it was summer in Australia, so we thought we might as well stay.

Fortunately, they had understanding hosts. The Devonshire couple had made the 10,356-mile journey to see their daughters – Katie Farrell and Susan Holder – and their seven grandchildren, all of whom live 20 minutes north of Sydney.

After serving 40 years as the Superintendent of Parks for the City of Hamilton, Mr. Ogden’s major concern during his prolonged absence from home was the condition of his normally lush garden.

“All the while the gardeners came and cut the grass and that was it,” he said. “When we got home it was a mess.”

Mr Ogden retired in 2000 after leaving his mark throughout the city – he planted palm trees on Front Street, created the moat garden at Fort Hamilton and helped develop many parks to do what they wanted. are today.

Change was sometimes difficult. When he arrived on the island from England in January 1962, he repeatedly heard the phrase: “But we’ve always done it this way.

“I asked for flowerpots for Victoria Park and a city councilor told me to only use old paint cans,” he said. “The alderman said the paint would rot, the plant would absorb the iron.”

Mr. Ogden’s mother, Elizabeth, was a teacher; his father, Frederick, worked at Price’s Candle Factory, which owned Bromborough Pool, a village in what is now called Wirral.

“There was no electricity, so the gas street lights were turned on manually every night,” he said. “We only had one cold water tap in the kitchen and there was a toilet outside.

Because of the factory, everything smelled bad.

“To make the candles, they boiled animal fat,” Mr. Ogden said. “The smell was awful. You couldn’t sleep at night sometimes. It was awful. “

He was three years old when World War II broke out.

“We were across the River Mersey from Liverpool,” he said. “We had to enter air raid shelters many nights because of the bombing of the docks in Liverpool and Liverpool itself. In addition, a bomb fell just outside the village and produced a large crater. Children, we played in it.

His interest in gardening started in elementary school when he was given land to grow vegetables. His father also had an attribution, and the two bonded for the love of the cultivation of things.

Mr. Ogden failed his 11+ exams, which he attributes to poor teaching standards, and was forced to attend the equivalent of a vocational school.

“We have not received any qualifications from this school,” he said. “I left with a Bible.

He then worked as an apprentice gardener for Lever Brothers, a nearby soap factory, and studied horticulture at Liverpool College of Technology one day a week.

In 1954, at the age of 18, he joined the Royal Air Force to complete the required two years of national service. He worked as a radar operator in Oldenburg, Germany, monitoring the Russians.

Upon his return to England, Mr. Ogden completed a two-year degree course at the Garden Wisley of the Royal Horticultural Society in Surrey. He then got a job at a landscaping company, but was not happy.

After hearing from a friend about the position of park superintendent proposed here, he applied.

“He was applying and he said I should apply too,” Mr. Ogden said. “I got the job and he didn’t. He didn’t like me very much for that. But he did his life well.

He joined the Most Holy Trinity Cathedral on Church Street, volunteering as a Sunday School teacher and then Sunday School Superintendent for many years.

Mrs Ogden arrived in 1966 from Warwickshire, England, to work as a nurse.

A mutual friend in the UK gave him Mr Ogden’s address and suggested he get in touch.

“I wrote a letter to George when I got here,” Ms. Ogden said. “A Canadian nurse was passing by the post office, so I gave her three pence. She mailed it, but put a three-cent Canadian stamp on it. So George got a note from the post office saying there is a letter, but you have to go pay a dime to get it. “

On their first date, Mr. Ogden picked her up on a scooter. She sat on the side of the saddle as they walked to the Gazebo Lounge at the Hamilton Princess.

They got married a year later.

Oil painting and flower arrangement keep Mr. Ogden busy when he’s not gardening.

“I used to make really large foliage arrangements at the east end of the cathedral,” he said. “I would make these arrangements of palm trees that were 15 feet tall. But I also did some flower arrangements on the altar, and also at Government House for the Queen’s birthday celebrations.

He is an honorary member of the Bermuda Garden Club and in 2002 edited their book Bermuda: A Gardener’s Guide.

For ten years, he has been revising it.

“Botanists seem to change the names of plants quite often, so you have to update it,” he said. “I hope it will be released at some point.”

For his efforts to beautify Bermuda, Mr. Ogden was awarded the Queen’s Medal and Badge of Honor in December 1992, and the RHS Veitch Memorial Medal in June 2002.

“There were only nine people in the world that year to get this,” he said. “I had to go to London to pick it up.”

Looking back on his life, he is very proud of the work he has done with young people – in the learning programs with the parks and also at the cathedral.

“I think I have had a very good and very interesting life,” he said. “He was very thorough. “

Lifestyle profiles the island’s seniors every Wednesday. Contact Jessie Moniz Hardy at 278-0150 or [email protected] with the full name and contact details of the person and the reason why you are suggesting them

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