Garden is an invaluable guide to maintaining a garden - from the plants to the paving - all year round. Starting with the vital task of watering, Australian gardening expert Jennifer Stackhouse provides detailed advice and insights on fertilising, weeding, pruning, looking after pots, lawns, keeping an organic garden and even how best to maintain outdoor areas, including paving, furniture, swimming pools and ponds.
Featuring plenty of photographs, helpful tables and tips, as well as an invaluable seasonal maintenance calendar and planting suggestions, this is the ideal book for anyone who wants a healthy, flourishing garden to enjoy throughout the year.
Harper Collins Australia
Author: Jennifer Stackhouse
Question: We all find it difficult to maintain our outdoor furniture, during winter, what advice does Garden provide regarding this topic?
Jennifer Stackhouse: There's great advice in Garden about how to look after outdoor furniture including cleaning tips and advice about storing it over winter. To get the most out of outdoor furniture, keep it under cover and put non-UV stable cushions out of direct light. Make sure the barbecue is clean! Safety is also important so, at the end of winter, give your furniture a spruce up, checking that bolts and screws are tight, metal furniture is rust free, wooden furniture is free of splinters and that there are no spiders or wasp nests living in or on your furniture. Give everything a clean and if necessary a quick coat of oil or paint.
Question: Could you please provide your top tips for starting our own organic garden?
Jennifer Stackhouse: Building a compost heap and getting into the swing of composting is the best way to start your organic garden. Once your compost heap is underway you can begin the process of recycling and reusing all organic material within your garden. Then plant a wide variety of plants to encourage pollinators and other beneficial insects to visit your garden and, if you have space, get a couple of chooks as well.
Question: What planting suggestions do you have for those of us that don't wish to spend our spare time, in the garden, maintaining plants?
Jennifer Stackhouse: Plant more of the plants that are already growing well in the garden and minimise the variety of plants you grow. Avoid plants that need lots of care - including vegetables, most annuals, many roses, fruit trees etc - and concentrate on easy care plants such as herbs, agapanthus, naturally dwarf native plants, ornamental flowering trees and the like. Also avoid high maintenance growth methods including pots, hanging baskets and lawn-edged garden beds.
Question: Can you tell us about your own, personal garden?
Jennifer Stackhouse: I live on a property on the rural outskirts of Sydney where it is cold in winter and hot in summer. This was already an established garden when we moved here. There are lots of established trees (many deciduous) that shade the house and there are extensive lawns along with paddocks and two dams. We are not on town water so we use dam and tank water for the house and garden. The house is set back from the road with a long tree-lined drive way with mountain views. I have chooks, a vegie garden, citrus trees and I have concentrated high maintenance potted plants and hanging baskets close to the house so I can enjoy colourful annuals and perennials.
Question: Who or what originally inspired your love of gardening?
Jennifer Stackhouse: I come from a family of gardeners and have never not thought that gardening was anything other than a normal part of life. My mother, Shirley Stackhouse, is well-known Australia-wide as a gardener and I have learnt a lot from her. Both my grandmothers also gardened.
Question: What are your earliest memories of gardening?
Jennifer Stackhouse: I have lots of childhood memories that centre around gardens and plants. When I was two or three we lived in New Guinea and I remember flying back home to Port Moresby after a visit to Brisbane staying with my mother's family. I was carrying a flat box filled with fragrant sweet peas which we had picked from the family garden to take back to mum. They were so fragile and scented. When we moved back to Brisbane from PNG my parents built a house and started a new garden. One other memory that stands out was playing king of the castle on a heap of turf that had just been delivered as my parents laid a lawn around our newly built house. While battling with my brother over who was king of the castle on our turf mountain I fell down and broke my arm. I guess that must have put a big dent in the lawn-laying program as I had to be taken off to have my arm put in plaster!
Interview by Brooke Hunter