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A sustainable collector’s garden

By Lawrie Smith AM

On one hectare, Dennis and Jan have created a sustainable collector’s garden of native plants.

Establishing the garden for sustainability

Dennis Cox and Jan Glazebrook established their Logan Village garden in 1992. Logan Village is a semi-rural village 45 km south of Brisbane CBD. A dramatic Jurassic sandstone conglomerate outcrop sweeps decoratively across the one hectare property. This outcrop was the reason for purchasing the land.

The soil is a very well drained gravelly soil, overlaying a clay layer then bedrock.

It is a true collector’s garden, inspired by the informality of the local bushland.  Registered as Land for Wildlife, it is an excellent model for water sustainability.

Jan outlined their planning philosophy behind the garden design, which is a true ‘design with nature’ philosophy. Dennis and Jan have combined the dual commitment of sustainability and collecting in their garden.

Planting and pruning for sustainability

  • Jan and Dennis only plant when they expect rain.
  • For each planting hole they mix two handfuls of bentonite clay with the soil.
  • No water retention crystals are used as these were found to quickly lift plants out of the soil.
  • Wide and shallow holes dug for all planting.
  • They cut all prunings to small size and drop them in location as a surface mulch. This also provides an excellent home for wildlife.
  • The first plantings were Leguminosae, pea plants and Acacia for quick nitrogen soil fixing.

Different gardens have different agendas

  • The ‘front’ garden within 10-15m on the north to east side of the house has small shrubs and groundcovers with taller background shrubs and a few special trees to maintain a sunny garden area.
  • The extensive ‘back’ garden north to west and south contains taller shrubs and trees as a dense screen to deflect the westerly winds, and shade the western veranda. This allows for extensive rainforest planting along meandering tracks.

Commitment to creating a collector’s garden

  • Dennis and Jan regularly travel the continent to observe and collect native species, with particular focus on small plants. These are then trialled in their garden. Jan heads the ‘Small Plants Study Group’ which is the study group of the Australian Native Plants Society Australia.
  • They propagate extensively and now have amassed an extensive knowledge bank about rare and unknown species now known to be suitable for use in cultivation.

Art and features

  • Every few steps throughout the garden you find an interesting artistic creation by Jan. Each adds so much interest and invites you to keep on meandering through the everchanging displays of small plants. The additions simply increase the natural attraction of the garden. One of our members Barry Jahnke, made the observation that the artistic items are invaluable as they “Put the human finger on the garden”, integrating people and nature.

Dennis and Jan have trully created a sustainable collector’s garden. In addition they are capturing and sharing their knowledge for everyone to benefit.