I recently gave a talk to the Eastwood Garden Club on native plants for small or suburban gardens. This talk has been scheduled and rescheduled 3 times, due Covid, but finally happened. Here is a summary of what I shared with the enthusiastic group!
Why plant natives?
There are many reasons but the most pertinent are:
- They are unique, 85 million years in the making – as measured from when Australia split from Antarctica, Africa and South America
- They are beautiful
- For the fauna – without the flowers, many of our iconic Aussie creatures will become threatened and extinct
- For biodiversity – many of our beautiful Australian plants are at risk of extinction. Every 16 minutes, a football field of native bush is cleared in NSW. That’s every 7 minutes in Queensland!
How to design with natives?
Gardens can be exclusively native or blended gardens, with a mix of natives and exotics. Here are a mix of styles from formal to informal.
Which natives to grow?
Here I concentrated on lower growing shrubs and groundcovers, and shared how to find this information on our website at https://resources.austplants.com.au/plant-database/. Firstly I gave a few tips on growing natives:
- Many Aussie plants only in cultivation for years, not decades or centuries
- Growth patterns, tolerances, pests not fully known
- Plants can bolt!
- Pruning is sensible
- Use low P fertilisers
- Watch for weedy species
- Select for microclimate
The species I highlighted were:
- Banksia spinulosa and the WA banksia species like B. blechnifolia and victoriae and B. menziesii (the last couple often going better in pots)
- Boronias – but treat them as pretty annuals
- Ceratopetalum gummiferum, NSW Christmas Bush – particularly the dwarf variety
- Chorizema cordatum, which can grow up a trellis
- Croweas – long flowering and long lasting
- Daisies like Rhodanthe anthemoides and Brachyscome multifida
- The grevilleas – see the screenshot below from our plant database on the website
- Hibbertias like H pedunculata with its lovely yellow flowers
- Homoranthus prolixus, an arid plant with stunning grey foliage and arching boughs
- Pimeleas, Scaevola, Tetratheca and Zieria