Every weekend in November, hundreds of people are part of a Hastings love story - a love story between a woman and her roses.

"I love them, and I think they love me," Annette Hildesheim says.

"They are just beautiful and they grow extremely well in my garden."

Hildesheim has opened her garden to raise funds in support of local breast cancer sufferers for the last six years.

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"Up until then, I invited all the old people's homes – they'd come 10 at a time for morning and afternoon teas. If you have a beautiful garden like this, why not share it with as many people as possible? The pleasure that you can give them is really worth it.

"I advertise it really well and people come, give the gold coins – sometimes there are extra – and every coin that goes to our gate goes to a local woman with breast cancer."

Hildesheim decided to support the charity because of a friend's loss.

"I was driving down Grove Rd and I saw a lady in her garden and I hadn't seen her for about two years.

"So I pulled up and ran across the road and said, 'Hello how are you?'.

"She said, 'I am still getting over the loss of my daughter'.

"Her daughter was 36-years-old, expecting her second baby and she eventually died of breast cancer.

"The tears just rolled down, all the way home.

"I drove around here, pulled up in my driveway. All I saw was pink roses and I thought, come on Annette, wipe the tears away and do something positive. And that's how it all started."

Her favourite roses are those with a connection to her favourite people, including one called My Mum.

"My mum was really special. And that's a rose I put in when we still had her. And she came down from Wairoa and said, 'You look after that rose, won't you?' which I have, as you can see'.

Hildesheim is 77 years old and still fiercely independent.

"Apart from having a ruptured spine, with six bolts holding me together, I still do everything here – no one's allowed to touch my garden."

Her injury was from a fall she took during a dog agility competition.

Her dog Toby was usually locked away when her garden is open, which upsets him because - just like his owner - he has an irrepressible love of people.

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