Our interviews with cool people continue!

1. Hey, who are you and what do you do?

I’m Zoe and I run The Very Green Gardener, which is a little gardening company in Pōneke. We maintain people’s gardens as well as support them to do their own gardens. (Editor note: Zoe also writes an excellent newsletter about gardening too)

2. Am I just a gross bourgeoise swine exploiting the working class getting someone else to do my gardening? What kind of people are your customers?

The world has changed a lot since I started in 2014, when it was more of a class divide. My clients used to be families with young children or wealthier people. Nowadays most of my clients are either very busy, or incapable (physically or mentally!) to commit to doing their own garden. (Ed note: It’s me, hi! No, literally, me interviewed on Zoe’s blog)
Quite a few of our clients have us do the parts of the gardening that are repetitive or physically demanding, so that they can focus on the parts they really enjoy. I can honestly say that I don’t take on customers I don’t enjoy being around- life is far too short- so the worst I can say is that some of our clients just aren’t that interested in their garden, but need to make sure it doesn’t completely swallow their house. (Probably also me, hi)

3. You have chickens for rent! The info about them on your website is pretty comprehensive but do you think anyone ever rents them for rehabilitation? I don’t think I’m the only person with a traumatic chicken story from Staglands

Zoe cuddles a chicken

Our really friendly chicken pretends that we are trying to murder her when we pick her up, and she makes a huge song and dance about crying, lying flat and stamping her feet, so if you want to feel like you have won the power back from a chicken I have the perfect one! Another one hates me despite, at one point, hand feeding her four times a day for a week when she was unwell. I’m still a bit salty about that.

4. I know there’s all kinds of different microclimates around Wellington, but do you have any advice for what grows well here or what should be avoided?

The best advice I have, that everyone can take, is that the plants at the garden centre are not there because they will grow well for you. They are there because nurseries decide those are the plants they will send out to every region, and often they are sent out at the wrong time of year for planting. Be very leery of what is in front of you. Read the label and then google the exact variety, and think about if that matches where you want to plant it. If you are trying to decide what to put in your garden, remember that the internet is full of advice from people worldwide, so a lot of it won’t apply to you, however if you evaluate your sources you will do fine. Also, just don’t bother with viburnums. They are a beacon for bug problems and will never look great, they’ll just attract pests to your garden.

5. I can’t imagine you’d be much of a “must follow the crowds!” person, but are there any trends in gardens you’ve been noticing clients asking for lately?

Everyone started moving away from hedges a few years ago, and tried wildflowers, which are quite messy and complex to maintain. Now everyone is looking around wondering what the heck to do. My predictions are rust and sandy colours for hard landscaping, and I’ve noticed people are starting to get tired of inflorescences (clusters of tiny flowers) and are looking for something with big, whammy, obvious flowers. I think we are going to move back to a bit more formality to be honest. Some clean, obvious lines.

6. What are your favourite public gardens/outdoor spaces to spend time in around the city?

The Begonia house at the botanic gardens is an all-time favourite. It is also heated, so good for winter! The park around the Hutt City library is also fantastic. My daughter has recently gotten into staring at the city from up high, so we’ve been spending a lot of time at the Brooklyn wind turbine at night- it’s beautiful, but you can’t see much in the way of plants there!

7. What’s your wish for Wellington in the next five years?

I am super concerned that we are going to move into a more conservative direction, so if we can cling to a greeney leftist governing body, that would be great. I would like to see the library finished ASAP, and I would very much like for Caffienated Dragon Games to survive, because the construction is killing their business.
I want to see cycle lanes everywhere and for the entitled car owners to accept that they need to significantly reduce their car usage so lesser abled people are able to continue to use theirs.
I want us to all invest in greywater systems in our homes and work on a sustainable method of electricity production in our homes. My partner is an electrician and he swears blind that solar just won’t cut it unless technology develops quickly. I want us to all keep being nice to each other!

8. Who’s a cool Wellingtonian we should speak to next?

Bridget Cassie is a plumbing apprentice who is an all round fantastic human, working on supporting women in trades in her free time with lots of fingers in lots of pies.
Ana Henderson runs Oh Goodness, making amazing soaps on the South Coast
I know too many fantastic people! I could list all day!