Plant Life Balance

Between two palms with Narelle Happ

Owner of A Garden Life, Narelle Happ helped us out on our Bush Tucker Trail look – now available in the Plant Life Balance app.

Tell us a little bit about yourself, A Garden for Life and how your journey with began.

I am a trained horticulturalist, designer and permaculture designer. I am passionate about growing native plants, edible plants and educating others in how to do so.

My interest in native food plants started when I was young and my grandfather was growing food. My dad took me on a lot of bushwalks in our backyard and my love for nature was nurtured here. After studying horticulture, I was lucky enough to get a job at Sydney Wildflower Nursery, which is a native nursery in South Sydney. There I learnt more about our native flora and my interest in edible species grew exponentially.

I then wanted to teach others so I started workshops teaching children, young people and the wider community. I have run workshops for pre-schoolers, schools, juvenile justice groups, passionate gardeners and a memorable group – the wives of diplomats in Canberra who were interested to know more about Australian native foods.

Why are Australian natives important to recognise and grow in our own gardens?

Our climate is unique and the best way to get the most out of your garden is to use it to your advantage. Growing plants that naturally occur in your region has so many benefits.

Firstly, as habitats for wildlife. Native bees, birds and mammals can share our gardens while helping pollinate and helping our gardens thrive.

Plants form your region will grow more easily, more healthy and have less pest and disease problems. They grow well in our soils and can cope with our rainfall – or lack of it.

I think we sometimes have an image of the Australian bush that is harsh and dry and people turn to exotic plants. This couldn’t be further from the truth! Our diversity of plants in Australia is incredible, and therefore a garden can be created to suit everyone’s taste while still keeping our fauna in mind.

Pun intended, how do you see A Garden for Life growing over the next five years? Do you have a personal dream for yourself or the business?

Yes, doesn’t everyone with a business? I often get asked when I am writing a book and it is definitely on my list.

I am also working on a Bush Food Educational Poster that I am illustrating myself. I would also really like to see Bush Food Gardens become an integral part of all schools and education facilities as a teaching tool, and to engage local elders in educational pathways for children and adults. I would also like to reach more people in the online world as the demand for this platform increases. My dream would be to partner with some native growers who are supporting local communities and this is definitely in the pipeline. So many ideas, I just have to find the time!

How do you rate your Plant Life Balance?

I am very lucky to work doing something I love. It is a hobby as well as my job, and that is a win win for me. Having said that, I could always use more time in my garden, but I always make a point of doing a round of the gardens in the morning before the days begins. To observe, but also to reboot for the day. My indoor garden is also increasing so that is a bit of fun too.

Alright, a fun one! If you could garden with anyone, who would it be?

Oh boy… it’s a hard choice, there are so many people I admire and am inspired by. I’d love to spend some time in the garden with Peter Cundall. He has had such an interesting life and he is so passionate about the garden. He is in his nineties now and still healthy and vibrant… showing how good gardening is for you. I hope I’m still gardening at ninety.

Get the new Bush Tucker Trail look and plant list in the Plant Life Balance app. Download it for free from the App Store or Google Play. Big thanks to our partner Pocket City Farms for collaborating with us on this look!

And keep an eye out for recipes and more native edibles content  – coming soon!