Meet Georgina Reid, storyteller and gardener
Georgina Reid is a landscape designer, gardener and writer who four years ago launched the online magazine The Planthunter to explore the connections between people and plants.
Her new book, ‘The Planthunter’, continues the conversation.
Interview: Robin Powell
'The Planthunter' Author, Georgina Reid and Photographer, Daniel Shipp
Your book is not the usual garden showcase - and there are lots of pictures of people in it! Tell us a bit about it.
Yes, it's not a typical garden book! It’s an exploration of what it means to garden, told through the stories of 24 people across Australia, New Zealand and the USA.
Your online magazine is also called The Planthunter. How is the book different?
The book is a refinement of some of the ideas I've explored over the last five years with Planthunter. One thing I've continually returned to is the idea that gardening can be a framework for how you operate in the world. Of course, it might be about cutting the lawn and pruning the roses, but it can also have a deeper meaning and importance.
Can you explain what you mean by that?
Gardening is essentially about two things - care and action. You cannot be a gardener and not care, you cannot be a gardener and not act. Caring action is the true work of the gardener. So I’m interested in what that looks like when you take the gardener out of the garden and into the world. I’m certainly not the first person to point this out, but there is a connection between cultivating the earth and cultivating the human spirit. A lot of the people in the book reflect that.
Are you thinking of anyone in particular?
Oh, lots of them, that’s why they're in the book! Topher Delaney, a landscape architect and artist working in the US, is a good example. For her, gardens are an expression of faith in the future. She talks about being diagnosed with breast cancer when she was 39. Her surgeon told her she had to have a double mastectomy the next day. When she asked him where she could go to think about what he had told her, he suggested the cafeteria. She went there and there’s a man eating Cheetos, and a baseball game on the TV and she couldn't believe that that was the only place in the hospital to contemplate your mortality. She made a promise to herself that if she survived, she would make healing gardens. And she did. For her, gardens are an incredibly important place of faith, connection and reflection.
Topher Delaney. Photo - Daniel Shipp
‘The Planthunter: Truth, Beauty, Chaos and Plants’ by Georgina Reid with photography by Daniel Shipp is published by Thames and Hudson, $60. Find more plants and people stories at www.theplanthunter.com.au