You know, I love gardens – all gardens. But I have to say, it is a long time since I put in a garden with exotic plants. Why? Because I love the local animals and insects too.
As I live in Australia, the plants I choose are obviously Australian. Mainly because they attract the birds (those pesky Kangaroos love my lettuces and are better off on the golf course). A garden full of birds and insects attracts the other animals too like possums and lizards. So, when I have a garden, I have a happy, flower filled sanctuary for me and my friends.
This principle applies everywhere. I love the move in the US and Britain to use local plants. The focus in Britain is to bring the Bumble Bee back. Plants which attract Bumble Bees also attract the other insects such as butterflies and dragonflies and more. The insects attract birds and other animals such as badgers.
Keep going I say.
Some of these images from the Chelsea Garden Show are wonderful examples of meadow planting used in quite formal gardens. I love the mix of straight and abundant flowers.
The Brewin Dolphin Garden
The RBC Bluewater Garden and more from the Brewin Dolphin Garden.
The gardens in later English garden shows give a better idea of how these flowers look at the height of summer.
Small or big, small or big, local planting will work.
Obviously, because I live in Australia, most of my examples use local Australian plants, particularly those which are adaped to our exteme climate. Gardens full of Australian plants can be untidy, grey, dusty and largely unattractive. This especially applies to small spaces but this needn’t be the case. If the correct plants are chosen and if they are looked after correctly, Australian plants can be used in any way you can think of.
Here are some great examples from both small and big gardens.
This large garden in Melbourne is wonderful. Modern, casual and well suited to the climate and our outdoor lifestyle.
The thing about this gardens is that it sits so well in its natural surroundings. The color of the garden plants fit with the surrounding gums and the sky.
A second garden in Melbourne caught my eye. This is only part of a large garden which winds down to the river at the bottom of the block. Simple topiary balls are a feature in the whole garden. Here they are used with Australian plants in keeping with the more natural landscape near the river. They link the traditional formal flower gardens with the parkland along the river’s edge.
Again, it is the color which is so important in making the garden blend with the natural vegetation in surrounding areas.
The thing is, there is nothing to stop you from mixing Australian plants with more exotic garden plants – especially if they are veggies and fruit.
And Australian plants are great in pots. Just make sure you use the right kind of potting mix – not too much potassium based fertiliser. Mixes for Australian plants or Azaleas and Camellias are great.
Yet again it is the color of the Australian plants, especially the greens, which make the garden fit into its surrounding so well. This applies to the small suburban block as well as the big bush gardens seen above.
And garden art looks great in this setting. It doesn’t have to be local but I have to say these lizards look great.
Water always helps to bring the real wildlife in…
Be it in a pot or a dam…
Or a small waterfall in a suburban garden pool.
You can have flowers too. Mostly in the late winter to early summer but some plants flower all year, especially if pruned well.
The birds love these nectar producing plants. Parrots especially.
Pink and white with a splash of pebble and yellow.
Flannel Flowers are my favorite. Difficult, and not very long lasting – I love them.
And there is nothing like a sense of humor when trying to attract the local wildlife.