Xanthe White is a well-known Auckland landscape designer and author. Her talented work ranges from private commissions to major urban projects through her Xanthe White Design business. She has been Daltons Brand Ambassador for ten years and also appears frequently on radio and television.
Xanthe has won numerous awards for her work including gold and silver medals, and the People’s Choice award at the Ellerslie International Flower Show. She has also won a Silver Gilt award at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show, and a gold medal and Best Design award at the Gardening World Cup in Japan.
Xanthe is married with two young children who feature in some of the photos throughout her books.
“Daltons products are made for real gardeners who know that the key to a beautiful garden begins with the soil. Like anything in life if you don’t get the foundation right you will never get the results you desire. Daltons have had the last 60 years of trials and testing to ensure that each product is the best it can be and their team is always available to offer advice and support. To take on the world you need to know you can depend on those you are working with every step of the way and I can truly say Daltons have been there for all my successes!”
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.
What winter brings
This year was a great one for my garden. I finally found myself a window of time to upheave the little triangle of lawn in the front of our house and plunder its fertile earth for a productive patch. Its funny the effort it takes to change our habits even when we want to. To turn from mowing to sowing even when it might take no more time and effort and the rewards are such easy takings. Being a mum taught me the comfort of routines, simple rhythms that are reassuring and placating, but sometimes you have to ask why am I walking this way, and is there another. I think gardening is like this. We become so attached and familiar with the way things are that we become afraid to experiment and try things new.
This little triangle of grass has bothered me for years. At times the cars have parked on it, bicycles lain on it, kayaks washed, but most of the time it’s been a lonely space visited only by the fortnightly roar of the lawnmower after which it returned to its solitary state. Its ripping apart was not a beautiful affair. The sawing back of the old hedge and the first stage of bare dusty earth was definitely reason to have left it alone. The birds were delighted and created dishy baths of fine soil clouds fluffing themselves up in the joy of dirt. The neighbours revealed on the other side of the halved hedge looked surprised to see our faces popping up as they made their way up and down the drive.
Next to fall was the little fence, and with it the letter box that for months sat balanced on a rock while plans were made and changed. The first round of seedlings were devoured by the neighbour’s chickens who had joined the other birds in admiring this lovely toiled spread of dust. They took great pleasure in kicking it around and in my taste of greens and beans. The weeds too delighted in the spaces yet to be occupied and leapt at the opportunity to spread unabandoned through the rich compost we’d spread about.
But slowly the shift found a new equilibrium. My husband and I found that the corner we had never been to in over a decade received the very best of the late sun. Here we spent the warmer days hiding with an evening drink while the children enjoyed this hour of unguided mischief from beneath our wings. The neighbours got used to seeing us out the front and started to stop and chat as we picked the evening lettuce. The chickens decided that the newly installed chicken wire fence actually gave them a lovely spot to snuggle in, unbothered beneath the mandarin hedge, to plan another way into another part of the garden.
Now the new productive patch is part of the garden. The children are used to the routine of evening gathering and friends will soon forget that we ever had a little lawn in the front if they had even noticed it before. Change is like this. It has this moment of chaos in which one wonders what on earth one was thinking which is I think why sometimes it’s a hard move to take. Especially when our lives are to all extents satisfying and content. But its worth reminding ourselves that out of that chaos new things are born and it’s worth making the effort to create a little disruption so we can keep creating.
Winter is a time where we tend to conserve and when conservation can be wise, but it’s also a time when a bit of energetic action will warm us up (even if our noses remain a little chilled at the pointy end) and get the soils ready for something new to begin. So, as you look out into the cool air from your warm and comfortable house, slowly slip on some socks and warm layers. Remember where you hung up the gumboots and slip out the back door and do the thing you’ve wanted to do for years. Be warned you may be met by some surprised faces when a branch is chopped back or a fresh green spot turns earthy brown. But keep smiling and toiling and in spring you’ll be ready to begin preparations for the summer wine.
The Good Dirt
by Xanthe White
Improving soil health for more successful gardening.
In The Good Dirt, landscape designer Xanthe White goes beneath the surface to reveal the secrets to successful gardening. As the title suggests, this book is all about the soil we find in our garden and more particularly how we can maximize its growing potential.
If you’ve ever wondered why some plants thrive in one location but struggle in your own backyard you’ll be likely to find explanations in the soil below. Xanthe White examines the five main soil types found in New Zealand and offers advice on how to get the best from each one by working in harmony with nature.
Complete with ingredients guides for each soil type and ideas and design features to enhance its fertility, this is an essential companion for anyone looking to establish a new garden or improve their existing one.
The Natural Garden
by Xanthe White
A sumptuous and inspirational landscape design book that looks at how award-winning landscape designer Xanthe White’s signature style, which she calls the ‘natural’ or ‘wild’ garden can be applied to flower, native, rural, dry, inner city, productive, subtropical, coastal, and small city wall and roof gardens.
Warmly and expertly written and lavishly illustrated with photos and Xanthe’s own hand-drawn plans, the book also contains best plant guides for each garden type as well as growing and composting advice. It’s almost as good as having Xanthe call round for a consultation!
Organic Vegetable Gardening
by Xanthe White
Organic vegetable gardening is big again. Here’s a book that takes readers by the hand and shows them how to go from backyard bombsite to organic Garden of Eden in one year.
Author Xanthe White, New Zealand landscape-design star, documents a year in the garden she built from scratch in a rundown inner-city backyard, inspiring readers to realise that they can do it too. Xanthe’s monthly diary inspires and confides, and her guides to sowing, planting, pests and diseases, making compost, mulching and more make it easy for beginners to follow - and get fabulous results. There’s plenty for experienced gardeners here, too. Xanthe’s tips, techniques and infectious enthusiasm will get even the most seasoned gardeners wanting to try something new. Most of all, she demystifies organics and makes it easy to agree that the only way to garden is organically.
Studded with great informational photographs, this book carves out new and unique territory that sets it apart from other gardening books. It is an inspirational and practical guide.