About Me

LyndaH_webFormer NZ Gardener editor, author, broadcaster, amateur home-brewer, pickler, preserver, part-time farmer, occasional farmers’ market stallholder and mad-keen gardener, Lynda Hallinan has spent half her life writing about her passion for plants.

In 2009, she met her husband Jason Hinton and moved to a 65-acre smallholding in the Hunua Ranges, south-east of Auckland, where she’s raising two children, Lucas and Lachlan, plus 14 cattle, 8 sheep, a dozen chooks, two kunekune pigs and too many houseplants to count!

Lynda’s garden at Foggydale Farm is (occasionally) open to the public for charity events and includes a barley meadow, lotus pond, sweeping boardwalks, cut flower beds, a converted stableblock, orchard of heritage fruit trees, woodland gardens, an equestrian arena-sized vegetable garden and a shepherd’s hut filled with dried flowers. Basically, a bit of everything.

Lynda chats about gardening each week on Radio Live (at 7.05am on Sundays on Tony Murrell’s Home and Garden Show, and at 1pm on Wednesdays on Wendyl Nissen’s Long Lunch); is a contributor toΒ NZ Gardener magazine and the Australian Women’s Weekly New Zealand edition; a weekly columnist for the Sunday Star-Times, speaker and workshop host. To get in touch, email nzgardener@gmail.com.

72 thoughts on “About Me

  1. Hey Linda

    I love the look of your new blog, can’t wait to read all your posts as you whip your garden into shape.

    But more importantly, when, when, when are you going to post some photos of that Hunk of yours?


      • Lynda,

        Your article in the Sunday paper about sweet peas that protected caterpillars from wasps sounds entirely credible. There is a universe of aroma-based communication in the plant and insect kingdoms, a dialogue that we humans either miss or misinterpret.

        Trees warn their neighbours of incipient fungal attack. Aphids send out β€œgood feeding here” or β€œdanger!” chemicals. Insect-invaded plants send out come-and-get-it a-mails (aroma mails) with simple messages like β€œmites available here” plus a return address, such as β€œsent from hibiscus leaf”.

        Some plants emit chemicals that resemble insect-made chemicals (pheromones). Animals can sometimes detect these chemicals. Humans assume that the distinctive aromas are meant to give us pleasure, but this is arrogant. The smell of catnip acts as a keep-away deterrent to many insects, and is a copy of an insect chemical. It’s not Nature’s gift to moggies. Kiwifruit vines, especially when cut or damaged, emit a similar cat-attracting aroma.

        The lavender smelling chemicals made by many plants serves a similar role in this pheromonic propaganda war.

        So as a first estimate, the intense aroma of sweet peas is probably an anti-insect mechanism. It’s not surprising that a high level of this aroma can confuse the wasps who are searching for the β€œscent” of tasty caterpillars. Should more sweet peas be planted in our bush an gardens to control the wasps?


        Jay D Mann

  2. Hi Linda, everyone has a hero, someone they want to be like when they grow up… ok so i’m already grown but your mine! I grew up on a farm like you then went urban however we are about to move to our beautiful 1910 villa in the country and I love all your advise as I too want a beautiful romantic garnden and to be come a self sufficient master! keep on being my hero x

  3. Hi Linda, love the new blog – like Teresa, you are my absolute hero. I refer to you as “my mate Linda” when spreading your gardening gospel – shamefully true!

    Can’t wait to see a pic of the hunk πŸ™‚

    Keep up the fantastic writing, I await your first book with baited breath!

  4. Hi Linda, after reading the few comments above you probably feel like you are a bit stalked or maybe just ‘groupies’ might be more appropriate. Would love to see more photos, PLEASE take some photos before you dead head your roses, would love to see all those pinks in bloom!. Also posted my website as I make wedding jewellery and would be stoked to be able to make some for you (I use swarovski crystals and sterling silver) though I would probably spend serious time in the garden to whip it into shape if you came out for a consult though! Best of luck and I’m not sure how you find time to sleep at all you seem to be superwoman!

  5. Hi Lynda, I’m so excited to find out about your blog, a wee bit late I know, but I’ve found it now πŸ™‚ I love your no nonsence approach to growing your own vegetables. Thanks for the inspiration!

  6. thanks have followed your garden expliots forom 2007,loved the idea of the white butterfly cut outs they work.
    enjoy your new garden looking forward to the finished product,thanks for the get growing couple this year they are very much more garden orientated than last year.

  7. Oops… I just had this dreadful feeling that I wasn’t sure if you had a “bun in the oven” but I am SURE I read that in the online newsletter for New Zealand Gardener! Please tell me I’m correct … if not what a bafoon!!!??

  8. Instead of the butterfly cut outs I bought the white plastic garden labels from Kings and they work too!! No sign of white butterflies, I have then dotted all over my vegie garden!! (some with vegie labels !!)
    Happy day tomorrow Lynda will be thinking of you!

  9. To my gardening Guru, Lynda and her Hunk Jason,
    My very best wishes to you for a wonderful wedding day and life together!

    Irish Wedding Blessing:

    May God be with you and bless you. May you see your children’s children. May you be poor in misfortune, Rich in blessings. May you know nothing but happiness from this day forward.

  10. Hi Lynda and Hunk Hubby,

    Best Wishes to you both for beautiful wedding day and future life together.Always look forward to your newsletter and blog. Hunua is a magic place that I call home.

    Jenny Brookes

  11. Hi Lynda
    I’m big fan of yours, I love your blogs, it is so funny and down to earth. So I have been trying to convince my husband to move to the country. So that we can learn to be self sufficent and marvel at the beauty of the land. Basically learn how to live a simple life without stress.. Dont get me wrong. we do have a good life.But its hard, my husband grew up on a farm, and Im from a small town. I do feel we have forgotten the simple pleasures of life. Right now Im enjoying your blogs, maybe we will live that dream one day Thanks

  12. Congratulations on your wedding. We love hearing all about you and your events……. I can’t wait to see some photos of the big day. Please pop some up when you are back from Honeymoon.

  13. Lynda read that you bought a knitted hat for your baby recently. I would like to knit you one for your newborn.

  14. Hi Lynda,
    you will need to add Pectin 24 hrs before adding the yeast to your fruit wine if you want a clear wine

  15. Not long to go now Lynda – hope it all goes well. Looking forward to finding out via your blog – and instead of a silver spoon, which might be a tad uncomfy, hope the little one comes out with at least a designer pair of wellies! Good luck – and happy motherhood. I guess you wouldn’t be unlucky enough to have it on Mother’s Day would you?

  16. Lynda, I just read about your cat Minnie using your whole house as a toilet. There is a possibility she is just really really annoyed with you and this is how our feline friends express themselves, bless them. Before my bloke moved in late last year, it had been just her and me, for 13 years. About 6 weeks after John arrived permanently she hopped into bed with me for a cuddle one night while I was reading, as she does, disappeared under the covers and about 30 seconds later burst out, leapt off the bed and took off out of the room. I carried on reading until I felt a warm wetness under my hand.
    Drat. (that’s the very very very polite version of what I said)
    I spoke to a vet about this and she said my cat was put out that somebody else had
    invaded her space. She has settled down since and actually likes John (always had) but recently had another bout of bed wetting (her own(brand new and very expensive) this
    time) when I annoyed her by not feeding her on time.
    Could you cat be grumpy with you for some reason?
    She also won’t go outside when it’s cold, so the litter tray is inside overnight only.

    • Hi Margot,
      Funnily enough, I had a cat, Jazz, in the past who did that exact same thing to me when I was a student. She fancied my boyfriend and lived with him over the summer while I went home to milk cows on my parents’ farm to earn enough $$$ to pay my student fees. When I came back, she hopped into bed with me and, while I patted her, pooped on me! All the while purring her head off.

      Minnie once peed on Rachel, the editorial assistant at NZ Gardener, when she spent the night here too.

      Bless her. I guess you have to admire her territorial tendencies!

  17. I have loved reading your blog and it is inspiring me to get back into the garden and grow lots to eat. Gone is the cottage garden. Now replaced with lemons, mandarins, limes and oranges. The roses are now off the fence and apples and pears replace them and the planter box is filled with cranberrys

    Next to go in is the fejoa hedge to surround the raised vege plots that the lovely husband and teenage lads built .Thanks for all the great tips and suggestions, I now know what i will be planting

    All the best of luck with your gorgeous boy. I remember those days well. As you wait for yours to go to sleep in the early hours, we are now waiting for our to come home!

    Annie πŸ™‚

  18. Hi Lynda, Snow down to the foot hills just to remind us that it’s still Winter. Funny thing though, nobody told my bananas as they are still fruiting even in this cold weather – real weired. I shifted the pinapple plants yesterday as they were growing a bit too large overgrowing the driveway making it a bit difficult to manover the car. The tropical papaya are still holding their ground and I’m crossing my fingers that the juvinile fruit won’t drop off due to the cold. However, it’s only a few weeks away before DayLight Savings comes our way again then everyone will be busy preparing their gardens, looking forward to it.

  19. Funny isn’t it. have just finished tarting up a small but perfectly formed berry farm outside Nelson, growing predominantly boysenberries, tay, raspberries ,and loganberries, with plums, feijoas, apricots, figs, mandarins, oranges, lemons, and limes on the side. Now I’ve found a fella and am about to go bush in the sounds. I am not planning to get up the duff (!!), but chickens and goats would be good if I have to get off the grid. Good luck and make sure you get a real fruit ice-cream machine!

    • Hi Sarah, I read your comment with much interest regarding growing berries. Its not well known that sulfur enhances the size of the fruit – almost double. We had a friend in Rotorua who fed his berries on the stuff and the size plus taste was awesome. Thought it may be of interest. Cheers, Rodger

  20. Hi Lynda,
    I am writing to you because I feel so annoyed with all of the press being generated about whether you should use disposable nappies or cloth (I am a fan of the new generation cloth and will here make my plug for the Canadian brand Mother Ease, which I guarantee you will love), and how much you should be working as a new mom. I think it is very interesting that it is your personal life, rather than your gardening life (if they can be separated!) that is generating all of the controversy…and think that it is such a shame that you can be criticised so readily for your choices. I strongly believe that those choices are quite personal decisions to make, based on the subjective circumstances of your life. I am amazed how people are so hungry for personal information about those in the public eye, yet when they get it, are ready to pounce. Every column of yours that I have read has inspired, challenged or informed me in some way, as it relates to my garden. As best you can, brush it all off girl!!! And awaiting your next blog posting….

    • I must admit it’s surprising how judgmental other mothers can be. So much for the sisterhood! Ah well, at least Lucas will be filling his nappies – cloth or disposable – with the finest homegrown veges come summer! (And at least the people who write to Sunday magazine to complain that I’m not using cloth nappies aren’t mean spirited like the vegetarians I offend because I live on a farm and (uh oh) eat the odd roast lamb… but that’s a whole other story πŸ™‚ I’m glad to be of assistance in your garden – here’s hoping we get a warm spring after this cold snap passes.

  21. Hello Lynda,

    We are new to your blog. We really enjoy your writing and particularly your article last weekend about the β€œ nearly ” abandoned lamb in a cute vest. We surely empathise with your feeling about sheep intellect !
    We moved to a bare 4 acres in Dairy Flat a few years ago and now have 10 Arapawa sheep ,a newly planted raised vege garden,
    a young orchard and a host of native trees to attract the birds. Yes, we have been busy.
    As we started on our journey of mass planting we found there were a lot of things missing in the accessories department.
    Good strapping for serious trees, non-toxic stakes for the veges and protection for small plants.
    I pestered my husband to come up with some solutions and hence Kiwireco was born.
    Garden products made here out of recycled materials that would otherwise end up in the dump.
    You frequently mention in your articles about how devastating it is to plant something only to find it decimated when you next return.
    We think we have a solution and we would love to send you a sample or two for you to try and to give us your comments about .
    If you look at Kiwireco.co.nz we have some new vertical cloches there that we are using to protect seedlings and they are working really well.
    You can contact us via the website if you are interested.
    Anyway, good luck with your plantings and hopefully a bountiful crop will follow.

  22. Dear Lynda

    Greetings from a very sunny Durban, South Africa.

    Love your show πŸ™‚

    On one of your shows you visited a plum farm and you put fresh plums in a bottle with some sugar … and that is as far as I remember. Is there perhaps a recipe on your site – have not found it as yet.

    kind regards

    • Hi Carol,
      It was Damson gin and it’s dead simple. Pack fresh clean Damson plums into a large jar. Shake in sugar to fill the gaps between the plums, then top up with cheap gin and let it stand in a dark cupboard, shaking occasionally. Drain after a couple of months, eat the plums… and drink the liqueur!

  23. Dear Lynda

    Thanks so much for your reply – really appreciate it. Will give it a bash. My folks fruit trees are groaning from all the fruit this year. They live in Northern kwaZulu Natal, South Africa. In the last couple of weeks, my mom has made many bottles of apricot jam and also many bottles of mulberry jam. She has also made about 10 bottles of mulberry syrup for ice cream topping and has filled her freezer with whole mulberries too. Have a fantastic day becoming one with nature on your farm. πŸ™‚

  24. Hi Lynda, just read your ‘Blooming good value’ article in the January Gardener. I found Cerinthe major (love the colours) to be a real monster – have spent hours pulling out all the seedlings from amongst my Hostas, and the darn things are still appearing.!
    I’d started off in this garden with just 2 plants raised from seeds last year – how I wish I hadn’t ! I’ve grown Cerinthe before at previous addresses, but because of where I’d planted them, never had any problem controlling the blighters..

    • Hi Merren,
      You may be right. I see I’ve got quite a few self-sown seedlings out there now. But I love them so hopefully they won’t take over and will stay well-behaved in one corner.

  25. Hi Linda I am just reading the April Gardener Mag and I see that you are still suffering leaf curl on your peaches.
    I don’t get leaf curl as I plant naturtiums under my peach and there’s a hormone or something in them that stops this from happening. I have tried this for at least 15 years and it works everytime. I had written in twice with this advice, with photos, to the magazine but they didn’t put it in so I am glad to tell you in person.Good luck. Cheers Penny Steffert (Nelson)

    • Hi Penny,
      I’m not sure if the nasturtiums can work those sort of wonders here, but they’d certainly be pretty! Our climate’s pretty humid; I just live with the fungal diseases.

  26. Hello Lynda,

    Just came across your blog thanks to my Kiwi mother-in-law and feel like I’ve met a kindred spirit.
    I have only been blogging about eight weeks and enjoying the garden chatterati among my garden nerdy pals and followers. Hope you can look in sometimes. http://gardengrapevine.wordpress.com/

    Love your work and promise to book myself a “jam session” soon – which is not what my rock band drummer son means at all !!!!
    ( like the sound of bottling with gin , too)


  27. Hi Lynda, Always enjoy your writing. Been an inspiration, thank you.
    Just been given a whole lot of apples, (Granny Smiths and Braeburns). Is there still enough airborne yeast about (I’m in Christchurch), to make your Cider Recipe? If not thought I might throw in a few raisins just in case… What do you think?
    Cheers Warwick

  28. Hi Lynda,

    What a fab blog! I enjoy reading all of your articles about gardening and refer to NZ Gardener all the time at my Nappy Workshops as a fantastic tool to get gardening. It has been my growing bible for a few years now.

    I just wanted to touch base with you and offer to catch up and work with you regarding your recent cloth nappy experience. It sounded to me like some of my first efforts when I decided cloth nappies were all together too much like hard work with my son leaking out of some of the nappies and so we resorted to using disposables in the early days.

    It wasn’t until I found out that there were lots of different nappies available and some were certainly far better for my son than others, that I started to enjoy using them and then ended up being given the title of The Nappy lady during a TV interview.

    I would love to catch up with you and give you a few different styles of cloth nappies to try and a few tips about using them without a laundry tub so that your faith can be restored in them.

    If you would be interested, drop me a line and we can sort out a time to catch up.

    Thanks for all of the amazing tips and tricks!
    Kate (The nappy lady)

    • Please do contact her Lynda as I have used cloth nappies for all three kiddies (youngest is three months and started when he was 4 days old). They are so easy to use and much better for the environment. Since you wrote your article about how you use disposable nappies, my sister has decided that they can’t be that bad and won’t do cloth. You are such a role model to others that it would be great to have another go and get other mums following your lead.

      • Hi there,
        Kate does a great job, and best of all, she’s nice about it. But I really don’t want to get into a big conversation about nappies on my gardening blog. All I’ll say is that when I tried the nappies I bought pretty much one of every brand so I could see which ones could work for me (and Lucas). I have reached a compromise by using the cloth ones in the afternoon. We don’t have a laundry or a tub in our home so it’s just not practical to do more than that, and I’m okay with that. I’m no supermum and I’ve never claimed to be. My contribution is to help mums grow good food for their kids… how they deal with that food once it shoots out the other end is none of my business πŸ™‚

        PS. I hope you’ll simply support your sister regardless – I’m sure she knows what’s best for her and her baby.

    • Oh my goodness. I just took a look at your blog and I suspect we are actually kindred spirits. Except my current collecting obsession is cut crystal trifle bowls (and old preserving jars)… I will take a photo and post it on my blog at some point πŸ™‚

  29. Hi dear Linda. My name is Kristina and I am living in new Zealand but originally came from Russia. Now I am on holiday in Russia and my mum showed me TV program with you. I loved it πŸ™‚ last time we watched it you was telling how to make jam. After it we had a big discussion with my mum and she sheared her secrets of delicious and easy recepies from things which comes from garden. All her life every weekend she spend in her beautiful garden and she consider it her holiday. After she told me her “secrets” I thought about you and other people who have got gaden as well….and thought that
    you might be interested in it. And I would love to shear them with you πŸ™‚ I am not talking about one recepy. Its more then 100 of things you can make c

    recepy, its more then 100 suggestions of yummy and fast food you can make

  30. I’m ashamed to say that I’d never seen, read or even heard about you before but I thoroughly enjoyed your talk at the Ladies’ Litera-Tea yesterday afternoon. Very funny and inspirational. I’m sending your blog link to my UK based single daughter!

  31. Hi Lynda
    Bit delayed, but really enjoyed the contributions of you and the rest of the panel on The Thinking Brunch in Nelson recently. You talked about being a Mum and reconciling yourself to disposables, so I wanted to let you know (if you don’t already) about a brand of compostable nappies available from Countdown. They’re called Little Genie Bionappies and they are awesome. Especially good for overnight, when a cloth nappy can’t quite do the job. I thought that a compost enthusiast such as yourself might like that!

  32. Hi Lynda,I hope this is the right media to ask for your help.I read somewhere that your tomatoes got blight. After all my hard work cultivating the soil in my raised garden and planting the tomates I too discovered that mine had been affected. After researching the internet, and spraying them with a copper solution, and destroying the effected leaves, I now want to know , if I should I pull them all out and throw them away? They dont look as great as the ones last year, and there are only a few yellow flowers . Also how do I fix the soil to kill all the infection. I am so disappointed as I wanted to serve them along with my potatoes for Christmas dinner to overseas vistors . Now I am worried that the pots will catch it, and visit the patch every day.
    Thanks Lydna.
    Not long before bubby boy arrives. Hope that all goes well.
    Victoria D’Audney.

  33. Hi Lynda
    I also live in Hunua and have a crop of raspberries that I have been watching and waiting to pick. Unfortunately I seem to have this odd little bug that has made the patch it’s home and I’m seeing all the new tips suddenly wither, go brown and dry and fall off! They are ladybird shaped but are brown. What are they and how can I get rid of them without using normal sprays? I try to be as natural as I can unless it’s absolutely necessary.
    Also is it too much to give them worm wees?
    I was given a bathtub setup by my lovely neighbour and have collected quite a few litres of “wees” and have been told to dilute it 10:1 is that right?

  34. Hi Lynda, just read your column in the Sun * Mag, I bought a great 2 piece from Michelle Ann Woolshop in P’kohe, not the 2pce itsy bitsy sort, more a top with a comfy lower half, made me feel half decent when I wanted 2 waddle across the road here (we’re on a main rd in the Coromandel) to cool off when pregnant with twins, no two ways about it you generally do feel like a ‘beached whale’ ! Ann1

  35. Hi Lynda

    I read your Sunday mag piece today and had to get in touch as this is definitely the one and only time I will have a gardening tip to share. Tomatillos do not need hot weather. I know this for a fact. How? I thought they sounded cool and planted some seeds I got off the Kings Seeds website in a fit of gardening enthusiasm. I ended up with over 60 enormous fruit! And I live in Wellington! They were simply left to fend for themselves in every howling southerly thrown to them! I have never dared to plant them again as that much fruit makes a LOT of salsa verde and we were well and truly over them by the end. My kids were gutted too as they thought they were going to be the best cape gooseberries ever…

  36. Hi Lynda

    i know it is nearly time for your next little man am really looking forward to hear what you and your hunk call him. I know it will go well, iola palmerston north

  37. I found a “rogue” potato in a bag of Osprey from the supermarket. It is oval, yellow skin and very creamy yellow flesh. It was delicious. It might be Summer Delight. Would you agree? You did plant some last year. I want to grow them – next best to the Irish Red Rascal!

  38. HI Lynda

    I am making apple cider from the recipe in your book. I was just wondering when to bottle, do I bottle when it starts fizzing 48 hours later, or do I wait until the cider stops fizzing? Thanks heaps, Kelley

  39. About your last weekend’s ZB comments on the cost of vegetables in the shop/ supermarket – You are clearly going to the wrong shop !!

    Here is a sample of some prices from my last bill, from one of my local greengrocers:
    Celery (large bunch) $1.69
    lettuce (iceberg, large) $1.29
    carrots $1.69 kg
    Spring onion (bunch of 4 or 5) $1.00
    spinach $0.99 large bag
    capsicum (5 large, red/green/yellow mixed) $2.00 (i.e. 40 cents each)
    pumpkin (large, Crown) $1.99
    brocolli $1.25
    grapes (Australian, seedless, green) $4.00 kg
    apples (Pacific rose, not the top quality) $0.99 kg
    apples (other, various) Up to $2.99 kg

    …And so on…

  40. Hi Lynda
    Wonder if you can help us with a Tahitian Lime that is now 4 or 5 years old and is struggling to bear fruit, we get some tiny fruit which do not go on. However, this year we have 1 that has matured more (at this stage anyway) We live on a lifestyle block near Pirongia. There is a lot of green leaf growth and the shrub looks healthy enough. We do cover it when there are frosts about. So any ideas would be welcomed thank you

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