Catching up with Lynda

Lynda Hallinan hasn’t got much time to talk – a TV crew is coming and she’s got weeds that need pulling.

The well-known garden writer is presenting segments for a new series of Get Growing that will start screening on Choice TV on Friday, October 17, coincidentally the evening she’s speaking at a fundraising event in Tauranga.

“People might be able to get home in time to see me on the telly,” she laughs, “if they haven’t already had enough of me.”

In previous series Lynda has hosted the show, teaching people new to vege gardening but this time that role is taken on by Justin Newcombe while Lynda will talk about seasonal work.

“New gardeners tend to get overwhelmed – choosing a fertiliser at the garden centre shouldn’t be hard. So my advice is to relax and not overthink things.

“Sure, mistakes will be made but a garden is made as much by the mistakes and the successes. And in case anyone thinks I’m some sort of superior gardener, all I can say is that I’m still killing things, lots of them.”

She suggests that mastering the basics will save new gardeners money and be a good learning process – growing from seed, taking cuttings for new plants – and that one of the most important attributes a gardener can have (“and I don’t”) is patience.


Lynda Hallinan. Photo: Supplied


Moving to the Hunua countryside and a 22ha “patch” in 2010 after living in suburban Auckland, everything seemed to happen at once. She had only just moved to her fiance’s home when she:

  • Lost all her possessions, including her collection of gardening books, in a shed fire
  • Then, to her great delight, she discovered she was pregnant
  • The couple decided to stick to the February date they had chosen for their wedding, partly because they needed to build the garden to be married in
  • And Jason, who’s a dab hand with a digger, broke his Achilles tendon, twice, during the work.

Lynda wrote a book about her first year back in the country (she was raised in north Waikato) and Back to the Land is a year-long month by month account of the much-loved flower garden she began in 2011, her regular spot at a farmers’ market and the preserves, pickles and various beverages, including cider and beer, that spring from her produce.

Lynda’s interest in veges and fruit stemmed entirely from a wild New Year’s resolution made in 2007 – she would live off the produce of her 733 square metre Auckland section for the year, with only $10 a week allowed for groceries.

“I think the champagne might have had something to do with it but it was a fun year and I learned heaps, including how to barter, although it was a bit touch and go sometimes too.”

This year she’s photographing a food crop and a flower every day, is preparing her garden to again open to the public – and doesn’t for a moment miss the overseas travel to garden shows, her high heels and handbags or even the Big Smoke’s night-life.

“I’m a gumboots girl now,” she laughs. “A Swanni on a cold day, good garden tools and some beautiful flowers are all I really want.”


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