Sunday Times

Love and green fin­gers make this gar­dener bloom

Tanya Visser is ed­i­tor of The Gar­dener/Die Tu­inier, Grow to Eat, The Ul­ti­mate Braai and Open Gar­dens of SA mag­a­zines, pre­sen­ter of ‘The Gar­dener’ TV show and a pub­lic speaker

- By MAR­GARET HAR­RIS

You are an author, mag­a­zine ed­i­tor and TV pre­sen­ter, with gar­den­ing be­ing the thing that ties all these roles to­gether. What drew you to gar­den­ing?

I have al­ways loved gar­den­ing. My par­ents were avid gar­den­ers, and my dad had the best veg­gie gar­den. Mom had a shade house with pot­ted an­thuri­ums and or­chids, all of which were in pots made by my dad. I still have these pots, which are now in my shade­house with my late mom’s an­thuri­ums grow­ing in them.

We lived in Umz­into, a ru­ral town 30km in­land of Scot­tburgh on the KwaZulu-Na­tal South Coast. I am eter­nally grate­ful that we were so far out be­cause this iso­la­tion formed the ba­sis of what gar­den­ing means to me to­day. Week­ends were spent in the veg­gie gar­den, pot­ting an­thuri­ums, build­ing chicken runs and feed­ing all our do­mes­tic an­i­mals, and the most re­ward­ing part was go­ing round and pick­ing the pro­duce.

So, to an­swer the ques­tion, gar­den­ing is in my blood.

How do you com­bine so many dif­fer­ent roles?

It is a team ef­fort. I have so many skilled peo­ple who all form part of the value chain.

One re­ally im­por­tant mantra that I stick to is: You can teach skill but you can’t teach pas­sion. When I need to ap­ply my­self to a cer­tain as­pect of the busi­ness or do a talk, I al­ways ask my­self the ques­tion, “Who is my au­di­ence? What do they need?”

What makes your job stress­ful?

Gar­den­ing is so re­lax­ing! I wish it could be that way. Dead­lines are a crazy as­pect of our busi­ness. Our mag­a­zines work three months in ad­vance. This re­quires pre­cise plan­ning. A prime ex­am­ple of this would be look­ing for im­ages. If the plant only flow­ers in Oc­to­ber and we go to print in Au­gust with this is­sue, you would need to have taken the im­ages the pre­vi­ous year.

What did you want to be when you were a child?

A pro­fes­sional cow­girl, just me and my horse and a few head of cat­tle. Driv­ing the cat­tle through val­leys, fields of flow­ers and a stream to camp along­side. Why? I pos­si­bly watched too many episodes of The Lone Ranger and The Lit­tle House on the Prairie. What do you find most mean­ing­ful about the work you do?

The best thing about my work is watch­ing peo­ple grow.

An idea is born, peo­ple put their minds to­gether and we make it hap­pen. Where there is a col­lab­o­ra­tion of collective minds, the en­ergy is tan­gi­ble and so­lu­tions are found. Pre­sent­ing to young and old, new­bies and ex­pe­ri­enced gar­den­ers is al­ways so in­cred­i­bly ful­fill­ing. What part of your job would like to change or not do at all?

Travel time, wasted in aero­planes and driv­ing — that’s the only part.

What other work would you like to do?

I would love to have more time to in­spire younger gen­er­a­tions to gar­den, to feel the earth be­tween their fin­gers. Gar­den­ing can teach many great life lessons that I would love to pass on. All in good time, I guess.

 ??  ?? Tanya Visser wishes she could in­spire more young peo­ple to love gar­den­ing.
Tanya Visser wishes she could in­spire more young peo­ple to love gar­den­ing.

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