Q&A with landscape designer Xanthe White

16 December 2015

Xanthe White has won a clutch of landscape design awards and written two books, but she’s about to tackle a rather more personal project: her own garden.


Xanthe, what makes a good garden now?
It’s about relationships with the landscape and the person. The designer is a conduit between the owner and their landscape – the more it looks like I don’t exist to the client, the more successful a design could be said to be, because the client feels like it’s theirs. The importance of growing food is very clear. But the thing I consider of primary importance is diversity: sensitivity to the surrounding environment, and making our plant palette as broad as possible to leave us options as changes in nature evolve.


Xanthe White’s ‘Garden for World Peace’ won Best Design at the 2012 Gardening World Cup.


Do you approve of “low-maintenance” gardens with limited plant palettes?
I disagree that limited plant palettes are low-maintenance. If things are looser with more depth it’s a bit more forgiving. But if someone likes things very controlled and clean, that’s fine. You shouldn’t put people in a garden that doesn’t fit them.


Xanthe designed this garden at a home by Glamuzina Paterson architects.


You’ve just renovated your house. What’s your garden looking like?
We haven’t landscaped because we don’t have any money for it yet. But I love it, even though it’s quite shit. I wake up every morning and all I can see is the treetops and birds, the sun hitting the plants. A loose and natural garden changes every day. Watching it do so is really good for your wellbeing.


Xanthe White’s ‘Garden for World Peace’ won Best Design at the 2012 Gardening World Cup.


Interview by: Jeremy Hansen

Visit xanthewhitedesign.co.nz for more garden inspiration.

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