Xanthe’s Seasonal Writing

Award winning landscape designer and author, Xanthe White, has been Daltons brand ambassador for over ten years. She has plenty of gardening experience and knowledge to impart to home gardeners and professionals alike. Here Xanthe shares her passion for gardening, along with tips, advice and gardening secrets even the most weathered gardener may not know.

Spring 2016


Gardeners are opportunists. We are always seeking a new plot of land where we might be able to play, be it for food, forest or flowers. It’s often the paddock. There are many great gardening stories of shifting fence lines as gardens slowly creep across borders. In cities, as we are faced with ever decreasing plots of land, true gardeners do not give in. Containers are always an option and make for great gardens, especially for those renting. It’s important though when growing in pots, to think about the quality of your soil. In a vegetable patch every gardener knows to compost and mulch, but in pots it’s hard to understand what the difference is between the mixes, especially when the price can vary so much. 

Even the cheaper mixes are generally better than the soil in your garden. They've been developed with years of experience from gardeners that know one of the most important things about pots, as with all gardening, is water. Potting mixes help retain water for dry periods but also make sure that the mix will drain. We all know what happens to stagnant water left sitting in a garden. This is the last thing you want around the roots of your plants. So what makes better mixes better? It’s the quality of the ingredients, but also importantly how long the mix will provide food for your plants. If you are putting trees or shrubs into a mix, making sure they have a long period of food makes all the difference. What you will save on using a cheaper mix in the short term, you are likely to end up spending on plant foods over time.

As well as planters, many gardeners are starting to look at their lawns quite differently. I love a good lawn. In fact it doesn't even have to be that good a lawn to create a beautiful soft green space for counting clouds, throwing a ball or having a picnic. I’ll never be sad to see the daisies. But there is a lot of lawn that only ever gets walked on when it’s being mowed. If you have the space that's fine, it's a luxury to be enjoyed, but when you’re looking for new spots for plants, a lawn is another sort of opportunity. 

I have a front and back lawn that both need some care. My plan this spring is to get that back lawn looking how it should, but the front lawn is history. I’ve had my eye on it for a few years now but my garden is not just my garden. I share it with a family so I needed to do some conversations. Thankfully my almost 9 year old has been in total gardening emersion from a young age. He was quick to come over to my way of thinking and started to extend the garden borders himself with potato plots and lizard enclosures. My almost 8 year old daughter was next in the line. Her imagination was on my side. “Less boring,” she said. “We are not really boring sort of people, let’s go crazy.” My beloved, well he is a “Yes” man. The sort of person who stands by other people’s good ideas and gets excited by them. So now we are all in, and it is spring. Our reputation in the neighbourhood may be set to tip over a little. The tidy lawns and neat edges of gardens make our house already look like a forgotten wilderness. But we are gardeners. We are opportunists ready to experiment and fail and try again. The weather is on our side so dirt here we come. Let’s get growing!

Best wishes,