Lisa McCune’s new Hustle, as she pivots to lifestyle TV

Lisa McCune turns her TV talents to gardening in NIne's new The Garden Hustle.

Lisa McCune turns her TV talents to gardening in NIne's new The Garden Hustle. Photo: Nine

She’s known for her stints on Australian dramas Blue Heelers and Sea Patrol, as well as headlining stage musicals, but Lisa McCune is ready to reveal she’s also mad about gardening.

And what better time of year for Nine to launch its new lifestyle show, The Garden Hustle, for inspiration? With the four-time Gold Logie winner as its co-pilot.

Melbourne-based McCune, 52, was recently asked whether moving into gardening was part of a celebrity’s nature life-cycle – reaching “a certain status in showbiz” before heading outdoors into greener pastures.

“I spend a lot of time in my garden, I really love it … since I bought my first place, gardens have been a big thing,” she said in a recent interview, even when home was a small apartment with a balcony.

McCune initially had dreams about doing a series similar to 1990’s Gardens of the World with Audrey Hepburn. In it, the Hollywood glamour icon travelled across England, France, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Dominican Republic and the US in search of beautiful gardens.

“I had this idea that I’d love to go and visit gardens and take people on the journey to see some gardens with great stories behind them and great history because so many of them do.

“People create gardens for so many different reasons,” she told the Sydney Morning Herald.

Instead, with McCune joining The Block landscaper Dave Franklin on Nine’s new The Garden Hustle, the pair front a far more realistic gardening show.

There’s no competition, no gimmicks. It’s more feel-good gardening where “passionate home gardeners take their vision from Pinterest to real-life perfection”, says Nine.

Across four episodes, McCune and Franklin help homeowners, renters and “unit dwellers” realise dream backyards with grass, trees, hedges, edible gardens and plants in pots that won’t die.

“It doesn’t feel as though it’s outside my wheelhouse,” McCune says.

“It feels very much to me like … it’s something that I love … so it’s kind of an extension of my personal life.”

Lisa McCune played Lieutenant Kate McGregor in Sea Patrol from 2007-2011. Photo: AAP

‘A household name’

McCune made her stage acting debut as Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz at a WA theatre. After completing a performing arts degree, she shot to fame on 1990s TV hit Blue Heelers, as Maggie Doyle.

At just 22, she had seven seasons on Heelers, earning her Logies and a place as a leading Australian TV star.

Sea Patrol followed, along with musical theatre roles, followed by her Green Room Award-winning performance as Sally Bowles in Cabaret and sellout seasons at the Sydney Opera House of South Pacific and The King and I.

“I have been fortunate in a country like Australia where I’ve been able to swing between doing some theatre and then doing some television.”

McCune in The King and I in 2014. Photo: AAP

McCune has remained a familiar face on Australian stage and screen, with shows such as The Potato Factory, based on Bryce Courtney’s novel, and crime series Forensic Investigators.

There was also How to Stay Married, the ABC series’ The Ex-PM, The Warriors and miniseries The Divorce: The Soap Opera, Tripping Over, Two Twisted, MDA, telemovie Hell Has Harbour Views (for which she received a Silver Logie nomination for most outstanding actress).

“Over lockdown, you start to realise things and you can get very caught up in only wanting to live in the one genre,” she told the SMH.

“But working with cameras and entertaining is kind of what I do, and I had to have a little chat to myself and go ‘why not move into those other areas?’. I’ve dabbled before, and I thought, well, this actually feels really right.

So how does she feel about hosting a show?

McCune says she’s no Sonia Kruger or Catriona Rowntree – “who don’t necessarily read auto-cues, who just actually are fabulous presenters” – and it’s not her “stomping ground’.

But she’s willing to give it a crack, as The Garden Hustle is more about conversations with people. Which, McCune says, she’s good at.

Each pair of occupants is provided with the supplies to tackle their ambitious designs, in return for their passion and effort.

In the first episode we meet husband and wife, Thanh Hai and Yen, who embark on a 48-hour makeover. They want to turn their front yard into a formal garden filled with plants for cooking and brewing.

McCune also meets a father-son duo as they hustle to create an alfresco area in an unused courtyard in just one day, while Franklin meets garden enthusiast AJ for a greenhouse tour.

The end result is a well-planned and executed kitchen garden. Photo: Nine

Before the backyard becomes a liveable family outdoor space. Photo: Nine

And after! Photo: Nine

The remaining three episodes showcase turning a backyard into a children’s playground, transforming an “uninspiring courtyard” into something liveable, and a balcony after a one-day Mediterranean makeover.

McCune also chats to a “carnivorous plant enthusiast” with more than 1000 specimens.

“I think [the garden] is a reset place for me and whenever there’s stuff going on, I just go to my garden and it’s just soothing,” she says.

The Garden Hustle continues on Nine and 9Now at 7.30pm

Topics: Lisa McCune
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