Growing a mini-hedge with native plants

Ever want to grow a mini-hedge with native plants? Many of us are passionate about native plants – how they look, their flowering and form, and the fact that they are uniquely Australian. But what about how natives perform as specific landscape elements, like a hedge, or mini-hedge? Here are points to consider if you … Continued

A garden inspired by the site

Over the last 20 years, we have created a garden, inspired by the site. We are now bound to the site in ways we would never have thought possible. Where we began Our garden of about one hectare is part of a 21 ha property bought in 1997. It was denuded farmland above Port Elliot … Continued

A living sculpture for the cockatoos

We created a living botanic sculpture, in the form of a grove of allocasuarinas, for the black cockatoos. Planting the living scupture 20 years ago We planted 56 Allocasuarina torulosa (Forest Oak) in a ’wheel‘ formation with 8 ‘spokes’. The Forest Oak attracts the Red-tailed black cockatoo as this is their preferred food source tree. … Continued

A Mediterranean garden in South Australia

I am enjoying growing a Mediterranean garden in Moonta Bay, in South Australia. Distinct seasons in a Mediterranean climate A garden in a Mediterranean climate is fun because the seasons are distinct and interesting. They are generally not too harsh to restrict what can be grown. We have wet mild winters, rarely a frost and … Continued

A truly habitat garden

Shirley Carn has created a truly habitat garden. About Shirley Melbourne members of the Australian Plants Society knew Shirley well. She was an amazing plants woman. In the time I knew her she had developed at least 3 gardens. The last two gardens were within cooee of each other in the beautiful volcanic soils of … Continued

Australian brush-turkey: unwelcome guest or ecosystem engineer?

Many east coast city dwellers may wonder whether the Australian brush-turkey is an unwelcome guest or an ecosystem engineer. But the very thing that annoys people may be an ecological blessing. Read on… Introduction If you asked a suburban resident of many parts of Sydney, Brisbane, Newcastle, the Gold Coast, Byron Bay or any other … Continued

Beautiful banksias for your east coast garden

Love beautiful banksias, but no room in your east coast garden for the iconic Banksia integrifolia, Coast Banksia? It can grow to 15 metres Well, never fear. New cultivars of dwarf banksias are increasingly coming onto the market to delight all gardeners, particularly those on the east coast! Over the past thirty years, many low-growing … Continued

Bonsai native plants

Have you ever wanted to bonsai native plants? Here is an outline of what bonsai culture is, what plants work and some resources to draw on. What does bonsai culture mean? Contrary to popular opinion, bonsai trees are not genetically altered in any way. Rather, trees are miniaturized through careful culture. Even though a tree … Continued

Create a sustainable native garden

Introduction When you create a sustainable native garden, you discover the benefits of native plant gardening, from conserving water and providing habitat for local fauna to fostering a sense of place and identity. Explore six essential tips for crafting a thriving native garden, including design considerations, resource conservation, and the importance of experimentation. Join the … Continued

Creating a native cottage garden

Have you ever wondered how to go about creating a cottage garden with native plants? The idea of a cosy cottage garden, with herbaceous borders of annuals and perennials against a backdrop of shrubs and (maybe) a small tree or two, has always been popular. Nowadays smaller gardens continue to make this style popular. In … Continued

Ephemeral arid plants of NSW

The ephemeral arid and semi-arid plants of NSW demonstrate some extraordinary adaptations to climate, soils and microclimate! With an increasingly variable and warming climate, it’s worth understanding which plants might cope with the tough, hot and dry conditions. Here are some of the landscapes and plants seen on a recent trip around western NSW and north west … Continued

Fifty shades of shade

At least fifty shades of shade grace my garden! Shade is easy in my garden – but how much shade and what time of day, month, year! My acre block runs east-west so the sun comes over the 120m length in summer and from the northern side in winter. At this time of year, it … Continued

Focal points in native gardens

Using focal points in native gardens adds interest, just as it has in any garden through the ages. Emerging vision for our native gardens On our gardening pilgrimage towards our own vision of Eden we progress through various stages. Many of us start by wanting to provide a garden for birds. Most of us have … Continued

Foliage for colour and texture and form

Given flowering can be fleeting, we can look to stunning foliage in our native plants, for colour and texture and form. Flowers are a bonus, so go with foliage It’s always difficult to find native plants to fit the bill when there is a plethora of species to choose from. Add to this the various … Continued

Garden design for climate change

Back in 2006, we realised that we needed to alter our garden design to prepare for climate change. Happily we made a start and here is the outcome. Evolving garden design for climate change Our climate change imperative came in 2006, only three years after we began planting our Canberra garden. We attended a life-changing … Continued

Gardening in Townsville

Here is the story of the evolution of my gardening in my Townsville garden. Where I started Originally from northern England my wife and I spent 5 years in Tucson, Arizona before arriving in Townsville North Queensland in 1986. So, the change in environment couldn’t have been more spectacular. Townsville at that time was called … Continued

Groundcovers in garden design

Not only are native groundcovers highly practical, they also play an important role in garden design. Australia has a wealth of choice of groundcovers Is Australia over-endowed with ground-covering plants, or does it just seem that way to me! I have been told that South Africa (and maybe other parts of the world) have more … Continued

How to design a perfumed native garden

Wandering through a fragrant garden is such a treat, so here we outline how to design a perfumed native garden. Have you ever wondered why some plants have perfumed flowers while others don’t? There has to be a reason. Why do plants have fragrance? Plants, like other organisms that have become adapted to their natural … Continued

How to design a small wildlife garden

Ever wanted to design a wildlife garden, but were limited by space? Here’s a guide on how to design a small wildlife garden, by Leigh Murray. Despite having no formal training in design, I found the idea of designing a small 5 metre x 5 metre garden an appealing challenge and had a go. Clarifying … Continued

Lomandras in native garden design

Lomandras are excellent plants to use in native garden design. Wide variety of lomandras on offer With a range of sizes and forms, foliage colours and textures, interesting flowers and general reliability, Lomandra species deserve to be more widely grown. Known commonly as mat rushes, there are over 50 species available in Australia. They grow … Continued

My Southern Tablelands garden

My Southern Tablelands garden follows the style of many country gardens. It has formal garden beds and lawns rather than bush plantings and winding paths. Here is my design philosophy and how it is evolving. Location and site conditions My rural property in Reidsdale south of Braidwood NSW sits in open farmland between several large … Continued

Native plants to attract wildlife

Some Australian native plants have proven ability to attract wildlife. They seem to have a magnetic attraction for birds, butterflies and bees at both our home in Queanbeyan (near Canberra) and our newish holiday house at Tuross Head (on the New South Wales South Coast). I’ve found that the most effective drawcards are those that … Continued

One stop pharmacy in the forest!

Many of our native species have excellent medicinal qualities. One such plant is Alstonia scholaris, which is a one stop pharmacy in the forest. Alstonia scholaris in situ I saw this attractive specimen in March 2022 at Deception Bay just north of Brisbane.  Only a sprinkling of flowers remain. Thousands of narrow pods up to … Continued

Plants for subtropical garden design

There are a range of plants suitable for subtropical garden design. Here are a few for two different microclimates in the garden – one in dampled sunlight and the other in full sun. For more information on microclimates and subtropical garden design, see our stories page. Orchids for dampled sunlight Dendrobium kingianum and other orchids … Continued

Practical pruning of native plants

I have a practical approach to pruning of native plants. Historically there was no pruning Historically, pruning has not been a feature of Australian plant gardening. In the 1960’s when I began a native plant garden, there was a lack of knowledge. Also there were misconceptions surrounding low care bush or naturalistic gardens. There was … Continued

Pruning Australian native plants for design

Pruning Australian native plants for design is one way to enhance form, size and flowering. For many of us, we aspire to have our gardens be predominantly natural in character. This means we encourage the plants to grow ‘naturally’ with minimal human assistance or training. Others take those extra steps to ‘interpret’ nature a little … Continued

Renewing a section of the garden

Many of us have established native gardens. But there comes a time when renewing a section of the garden becomes essential. Here is my critique of how my renewal process has progressed. Background to the renewal project Around twelve months ago, I decided to remove an old, woody, very large (1.5m high x 4m wide) … Continued

Stunning native rooftop garden

Imagine a rooftop garden full of stunning native plants, blowing in the breeze – it’s magic! Commitment to sustainability Back in 2019, the Mirvac team, Didi Stigter and Victoria Stiles, invited several of us to visit the first indigenous rooftop farm and other cultural gardens at the recently developed South Eveleigh precinct. The rooftop garden … Continued

Stunning NSW South Coast gardens

A group of native plant enthusiasts from Canberra visited a number of stunning NSW South Coast gardens. Here is a rundown of the itinerary and the gardens visited. Starting at Guerilla Bay Members of the Canberra Garden Design Study Group and the Australian Native Plants Society Canberra group met together in Batemans Bay, Burrewarra Point … Continued

Stunning showcase at Melton Botanic Gardens

See a stunning showcase of dryland native plants at Melton Botanic Gardens. I have always wanted to visit this garden having seen images of its plants. About the gardens Melton is a relatively young, 25-HA, volunteer-managed botanic garden. Notably, it features dryland Australian native, South African, Californian, and South American species. A lake full of … Continued

The Wartook Gardens in the Grampians

The Wartook Gardens are located in the Grampians. We have progressively developed the gardens over the last 50 years. Here is a short story about our garden design and planting. Site location and conditions We live on the western side of the Grampians National Park where the rainfall is now down to about 550 mm … Continued

Two useful and attractive groundcovers

In southeast Queensland successfully growing small dense ground covering plants can be a hit and miss situation. However here are two groundcovers that have proved to be useful and attractive. The value of groundcovers In southeast Queensland successfully growing small dense ground covering plants can be a hit and miss situation, due to the climatic … Continued

What native plants grow in clay?

Clay is a great soil to have in your native garden – it’s full of nutrients and retains water. BUT, not all natives like it! In fact, most plant labels say, ‘well drained soils’, which can put us off. However, I’ve been growing native plants in clay for over 20 years and have had many … Continued