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Plants for subtropical garden design

By Joan Dillon, Sunshine Coast, Queensland

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 occupy a relatively narrow space which provides early sun, dappled shade and good air flow. Most grow happily on rocks or old bits of tree branches, have plenty of bark/leaf litter at ground level and share the area with ferns, mostly.

The multi-flowering Dendrobium speciosum grows on a lump of old timber mounted on a wire frame at eye level between the branches of a paperbark. It’s beside the main path to the house. We originally placed it there to be out of reach of the wallabies. However we really like the mid-level seasonal display.

For more information on growing orchids, see the story on the Australian Plants Society NSW website.

Low growing shrubs and groundcovers for visual interest

Another microclimate we have been working on is this viewing garden.

This latest garden creation is intended to be low level and colourful. It is viewed from the front veranda and connects with the older layered garden. As always diversity and density for the wildlife was a parallel design criterion.

The path backed by Melaleuca sp (Callistemon) meanders back to the driveway, hidden from view. Underfoot the bark path is in keeping with the overall ‘natural’ feel of the garden. Such a path is also much appreciated by the bandicoots.

These are just a few of the plants which grace our subtropical garden and add to the design.