Tree planting remembers Exbury stalwart Ian Holloway

Ian's father John and wife Maria after the planting of Prunus Chocolate Ice

Ian’s father John and wife Maria after the planting of Prunus Chocolate Ice

A Prunus ‘Chocolate Ice’ (Matsumae-fuki) has been planted at Exbury Gardens in memory of Gardens and village stalwart Ian Holloway, who died suddenly earlier this year aged 57. Ian, affectionately known as ‘Olly’, lived and worked at the New Forest village for over 40 years, performing many community duties alongside his role in the Gardens. Ian was a dedicated Parish Councillor and Committee Member of the Exbury Club, and his loss has been greatly felt across the closely-knit community.

Addressing the large crowd who gathered to see Ian’s wife Maria and his father John plant the tree, Exbury Gardens President Nick de Rothschild remembered Ian with both humour and affection: “Everyone knew Olly; there wasn’t a thing that was too much trouble for him. He was the hardest of workers, with a voracious appetite to get things done. After driving his tractor in the Gardens during the day, Ian would be found mowing the cricket outfield during the evening, or chopping firewood for the pensioners, or clearing ditches and gullies on the village roads. He would never let up. Even during the winter with snow on the ground Ian would be found working – dressed up as a snowman who would come magically to life on the Santa Specials.

“Ian was known as the ‘Exbury Echo’ – the font of all local knowledge and gossip! He had a great sense of humour and a wicked turn of tongue that endeared him to his colleagues. Instantly recognisable with bushy beard, curly hair and well-worn clothes, his appearance did get him into trouble on one occasion when he was catching forty winks inside the wagon that was transporting scarecrows to be positioned for the Exbury Scarecrow Festival. The wagon hit a large stone, jettisoning the scarecrows – and Ian – out of the back. Some Exbury visitors got the shock of their lives when one of the ‘scarecrows’ staggered to its feet, brushed itself down and got back onto the wagon! But Ian’s scarecrow-like appearance would belie an encyclopaedic gardening knowledge – he had a rare and wonderful talent to be able to name rhododendron and camellia species just by looking at their leaves.”

Exbury Head Gardener John Anderson said: “We miss Ian terribly. He was such an integral member of the team and his sudden loss was a huge shock. Ian loved trees and it is fitting that we have planted a Prunus ‘Chocolate Ice’ alongside the railway, where it will stand as a sentinel on the hill above the track in Summer Lane. Ian had a soft spot for chocolate and ice-cream and his sense of humour would have appreciated our choice of tree for his remembrance.”