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.
Uncle Freddie and the garden
I’ve written before the story of our project in Le Quesnoy. A garden built for peace to sit alongside the New Zealand war memorial in Le Quesnoy. The project became an immense personal undertaking, with funding tight it required many hours of personal time and pursuit to turn it into a reality. Throughout the project, there were moments when I felt overwhelmed by the stories of these soldiers so far from home fighting in mud and horror to die just days before the war was to be over.
When we made it to France, as we arrived on site the contractors stopped work to lift from the earth a gun, twisted and corroded and barely recognisable from the war were marking the end of. This was another reminder of why we were there, the price that was paid.
It was close to this spot that we buried the time capsule. The Time capsule was made of Black Maire by my long-time friend and craftsman Justin Hurt. On it were panels of the New Zealand landscape, the ocean, the mountains and forest painted by Queenstown artist Marc Blake. He saw these images as perhaps offering recognisable images to those who were lost. A symbol of a way back home.
We made this time capsule so we could acknowledge the many people who had contributed to the garden and it became a place to tell this part of the story. In it, I also placed some personal items of my grandmothers, my great aunts and my Nana. Winifred Alexander had lived till I was 11 in time to receive her telegram from the Queen and through a century which saw two wars. She would ring her bell when she wanted anything and as a dutiful granddaughter, I would be sent to her. She would often just talk, telling stories of the past and people long gone.
A few weeks ago, my mum received a text about her friend’s chickens fossicking in his garden. In the background of the photo he sent were two crosses. My mother enquired to find they were from his wife’s uncle who had passed in the war. My mother had on the commemoration of Armistice Day, gone searching for her great Uncles’ cross at the Auckland War Memorial Museum. Nana, Auntie Rith and Nanny had talked about Great Uncle Freddy, but as his brother had died when the girls were young, our connection to him had faded as these things do.
Telling this story to her friend, he offered to help my mother. Having written several books sharing stories of WW1 he knew the methods of searching well and was able to send the information to my Mum within a day or two. And so it happens that on the 4th of November, on the day of its liberation, that our Great Uncle Freddie lost his life. 100 years later his great-niece (myself) buried in a beautiful handcrafted box two treasures from his nieces and his sister-in-law's golden kiwi ticket, the name of the ticket written in her spidery writing, in a garden made by his niece and her friends.
The stories I wrote about our grandmothers being there too made so much more alive because they were. Without knowing the full truth of it I had bought his family across oceans and continents to him and he and his stories have come back to life for us all.
He had the last word, I think. When on leave for injury a couple of years before his death he was charged with gambling in the hospital grounds and here in this story a golden kiwi ticket from his sister law, a last flutter returns to rest where he gave his life for freedom and our futures.
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.