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Sustainable Chic

We’re all about sustainability right now and, as society gravitates towards more eco-friendly lifestyles, we become more ecologically conscious and knowledgeable about the products we fill our houses with and their longer-term use – not just in function, but also in form. Welcome to the ‘Green Age’.



Bonkers for bamboo: This material is often labelled as the fastest-growing plant on earth, which results in it also acquiring the attribute of being highly sustainable. This is a material that can be used for almost anything around the home such as flooring, cabinets, lightshades and even outside furniture. Just be sure to get good quality bamboo from a sustainable factory, as it’s not always the sturdiest material.

Grow up: Plants are the reason we’re able to provide oxygen to our lungs. So why not get closer to the source? Adding houseplants to your home will improve the quality of the indoor air and constantly remind you that we have to nurture nature so that it can do the same for us.

A bright idea: It’s hard to believe that something as simple as switching your lightbulbs could be a stepping stone to making your home more sustainable. Well, believe it. Energy-efficient lightbulbs are the way to go moving forward. They’re cost-effective and long-lasting. It might be time for you make the switch.


The science of food

“Ever wanted to know if a cow is smiling? Or how you can make your car run on food waste from the rubbish dump?”



Well Grow Ō Tautahi Science Ambassador Trevor Stuthridge is keen to share cool science along with research that makes a real difference to people’s lives.

“I think scientists often forget how amazing our job is and how excited our research can make people,” the AgResearch Research Director says.

Trevor is leading the Science of Food Hub during Christchurch’s free, three-day Garden Festival Grow Ō Tautahi.

Challenged by the ideas and questions of local secondary students, environmental experts from AgResearch, Lincoln University and Environment Canterbury will explore the topics that matter to our region right now and into the future.

“It is a great chance to make science real by engaging audiences in environmental and sustainability issues that really mean something to their lives,” he says.

A self-professed “uber geek”, Trevor is thrilled to have the opportunity to share cutting-edge science at the festival and demonstrate how local research can have a real benefit to our personal and community wellbeing.

“We’re all becoming more aware that what we consume has a direct impact on both our health and our environment. A future where we tailor food to our individual genetics and track its source according to consumer preferences is now on the horizon.

“Indeed, local research organisations and universities view the region as a strong, living laboratory for how science can make a difference for New Zealand.”


A growing passion

Wildly successful home design blogger Julia Atkinson-Dunn recently developed a green-finger. We caught up with Julia about her growing passion.



You started NZ’s very first – and wildly successful – design blog in 2008 before going through a bit of an evolution. How did you first catch the gardening bug?

I had always been a flower lover (and roadside thief!) but not at all tempted to grow my own garden beyond a house plant or two.

The exact moment gardening entered my life was three years ago when I saw the impressive, stacked vegetable beds in the backyard of our Linwood home-to-be.

I realised then and there that I would have to ‘grow things in it so it looked good’.

I think the turning point was the fact this garden wasn’t going to be rented, but instead a place I could transform to enjoy for the future!

As I got going, pestering my poor mum to answer all my questions, I slowly realised that gardening was a natural and welcome extension of my passions for design and decorating, in perhaps the most satisfying form of it all!

I think that my experience is pretty common of a lot of first-home buyers now, that’s why I wanted to get involved with the Grow Ō Tautahi Garden Festival and share what I’m learning.

How excited are you about being the Beginner Gardener Ambassador for the new Grow Ō Tautahi – Christchurch Garden Festival launching in March 2020 and what will your role involve?

Incredibly excited on so many levels!!! It’s such a thrill to be involved in an innovative, vibrant Canterbury event and even more so to have a public opportunity to source wisdom for all those local people out there who have shared a similar gardening adventure to me.

During the Grow Ō Tautahi festival, I will be running a series of panels on stage (free to attend) aimed specifically at helping beginner gardeners.

Here I will invite local gardeners and experts to impart specific advice to answer our questions around getting started, troubleshooting and those tricks and tips that you can’t google!

Where do you start when it comes to making heads and tails – or roots and leaves – of everything gardening?

The BEST source is a friendly gardener. I’ve discovered that gardeners are eager sharers and helpers and they can really help you on your way.

Honestly, it’s highly likely if you knocked on a neighbour’s door with a garden you love that they will come to wander yours armed with advice and maybe even plants!

Second to this, the Yates Garden Guide, which has been in print for nearly 80 years, is packed with so much valuable information relevant to our differing growing conditions in NZ.

It’s like the beginner’s bible and can support you as you get going and give you a resource to fill in the gaps after a googling session!

Or come along to Grow Ō Tautahi in March to hear ideas and talk with expert gardeners as part of my beginner gardener panels!

You are also welcome to follow me on Instagram/Facebook or read my blog posts sharing the snippets that I learn along the way too! @studiohomegardening


  1. Read the labels and do your research. If a plant requires full sun they aren’t kidding! The result is either plants growing horizontal to the ground searching for the sun OR simply not growing much at all.
  2. Dedicate yourself to watering or invest some time and money into an irrigation system – staying on top of this has been key for me!
  3. Muster up some patience. There is no beating Mother Nature on how quickly things will grow and if the weather suits. With that said, don’t simply revert to an “easy care” garden, it is astonishing how time flies and in no time you will have flowers blooming!
  4. Get a grasp on the plant types – perrenials, annuals, biennials etc. Having a basic understanding of plant life cycles will save you a lot of time and money in the long run! This will also help you build a plan for a garden that has interest all year round.
  5. Give yourself a break! Often as adults we don’t start learning new things from scratch, so allow yourself time to come to grips with it all. The actual process of learning, getting your hands dirty, researching bug problems and harvesting is as important as the atmosphere you are trying to create.

A lush garden retreat

Ashburton’s Lushington Garden Gifts and Café is a trove of pleasure. Delighting the senses, it’s the ideal break on a journey, the perfect destination itself for a few hours’ treat with friends, or a soul-restoring solo escape.



The garden centre is award-winning and you can see why, with its beautiful displays, and a range of plants that is guaranteed to inspire. There are lots of living gifts and a gorgeous selection of indoor plants.


The range of plants is huge, and you’ll be assisted in your selections by the knowledgeable and experienced team. Local and sustainable are watchwords, and the team pride themselves on the quality of the plants, many of which are grown in their nursery at Allenton, which also helps to keep the prices competitive.

Inside you’ll find the café, the gift and homewares shop. Worked around a ‘country comes to town theme’ you’ll find beautiful French and English inspired giftware, while in the café you’ll find delicious wholesome and homemade cakes and slices, plus full breakfast, lunch and sides menus, which cater for gluten free and vegetarian diners.


Co-owners and sisters Miranda Sinton and Sophie Duff are locals who grew up on a farm in Mayfield. They’ve brought their love of the wholesome and artisan to Lushingtons, where the plants, great food and gorgeous gifts have been nurtured for ten years. “It’s just a great place to revel in beautiful plants, meet with friends for lunch in a licensed cafe then browse the gifts and home-wares,” says Miranda.