The garden dynasty
Given her background as a member of one of Australia’s most prominent gardening families, it’s no wonder that Linda Ross has managed to spend most of her working life outdoors.
Her parents are celebrity garden duo, Graham and Sandra Ross. Graham has notched up a pretty impressive career in the media – more than 20 years on TV stalwart, Better Homes & Gardens, plus 37 years on Sydney radio station 2GB.
Now it’s Linda’s turn to create her own space in the gardening world, with a new weekday program on Talking Lifestyle.
She’s been regularly filling in for her father over the years, but this new show is all Linda’s.
“Mum and dad have always been so passionate about gardening and they've had such a balanced life,” she says. “It is kind of addictive because you think, ‘Oh well if I just go into that field, I'll have this lovely balance of outdoor life, health, physical exertion and mental wellness’.
“It is kind of infectious. When you see it working so well you think, ‘Oh I could just take over this business, no problem at all.’ ”
Linda trained in landscape architecture, but found that a career spent in an office was not for her.
“I spent my first day in a studio hemmed in with fluorescent lights and I thought that it wasn’t for me at all,” she says. “I don't want to be filling in the maps, the plans of architects where they give me a square to do the garden. I thought that was very unimaginative so I didn't last very long.”
The Ross family homestead sits among a beautiful array of sub-tropical plants
Indeed, the Ross family is almost a total gardening empire these days. Linda and her family (husband Dan and two children) live on the same property as her parents in the leafy Sydney suburb of Beecroft, with an office just a few steps from her home.
Some people might find it tricky to work with their parents, but Linda loves it and says it’s how her life has always been, from the time she was very young.
“My brother and I were at nurseries every weekend doing outdoor broadcasts, back in the '80s and '90s,” she says. “We didn't have much money so it was always a family thing. We did everything together and I think that's why we like working together because even though we know each other's strengths and weaknesses, we are all very tolerant of each other."
“We all see the big picture and see who needs to do what to achieve it.”
Linda’s husband, an electrician, has even joined the family business. “He often is the voice of reason,” she says, laughing. “He's a very methodical thinker so he's in demand in our family.”
Not that the family is all in each other’s pockets all the time.
“We work singly as well so we don't all have to be at the office at the same time and we've got a little band of staff members who are very loyal to us. It's been there for decades really so it's nice way to bring up kids too.”
“We do so many different things,” says Linda. “The radio is one part – and a very important part because that's when we can communicate with the general public in what they're doing and inspire them."
“That's the pinnacle of everything that we do, but we do a lot of other things too, including engaging the public with our garden club, classes, workshops and garden tours around the world. So we do all these different lots of strings on the one bow.”
Linda's garden on the north coast evokes a classic beach shack aesthetic
Linda has two gardens herself – one in main home and office at Beecroft, which is designed with a tropical aesthetic, plus one on the NSW north coast, where she and her husband have a small shack with a garden of natives, planted “in a very English way”.
“There's this perennial movement that was started in Holland, called the New Perennial Movement and it's planting perennials in waves and swathes to create mountains of colour. It's very European but I've really wanted to do that with Australian natives, so I've planted in groups of fives so you have waves of things contrasting with other Australian plants.”
“That's where I'm experimenting,” she adds, laughing.
Listen to Linda Ross every weekday from 1-2pm on Talking Lifestyle.
Image credits: (feature image) Luisa Brimble; (in-text) Linda Ross and Chris L. Jones.