What is a successful garden? Do you have a successful garden? I find myself wondering if I have a successful garden. I really love reading gardening magazines, especially those which feature native gardens and talk about birds, ecosystems and regenerative practices. I also enjoy watching ‘Escape To The Country’ which is an English programme featuring not only gorgeous houses but also ‘to die for’ gardens. Maybe this is why I wonder if I have a successful garden………….because I measure up my garden against these designer offerings. Not only are they designer gardens but you can be sure that the shrub which is dying will not feature in the glossy photographs. The plant with the munching caterpillars won’t be there either and nor will the tree blown over in the wind. The garden help are likely not to get a mention and what’s more rain will fall at just the right time to keep everything looking fresh.
The definition of success is ‘the achievement of something that you have been trying to do’. So what is a successful garden? It is a garden that is unique to you and uniquely suited to your purposes. It is a garden that is pleasing to your eyes and to heck with everyone else. If that purpose is to show it off in ‘House and Garden’ or ‘Country Style’ magazine then so be it. You will need to have designer tendencies or employ someone who does and everything will need to be ‘just so’ at all times. If you can do this you will have a successful garden. However if you desire a garden as a place for relaxation, the kids to run and play, birds and bees to find food, and where you can smell the roses, and it serves its purpose then it is a successful garden too.
That is not to say that there are not ways and means of building a garden which is more likely to be pleasing to your eye. Balance, shape, form, colour, repetition, and a cohesive plan are all good things, but if you like a casual collection of plants, or you like neat rows then this is what you should have. Is it pleasing to your eye? Then that is what matters. You don’t need grand statements if you are not a grand statement person and you don’t need to feel you have to ‘keep up with the Joneses’ (or the horticulturist at your local nursery for that matter) in your garden patch.
That being the case the only important decision we each need to make is which plant to choose to fit that spot we have waiting, convince ourselves not to compare ourselves to others, and we’ll all have successful gardens.
A plant label should always include the scientific name but may also include a common name. Each plant has a unique name, which is the same no matter where you are in the world. This means you can be sure of what you are buying (presuming of course that it is labelled correctly). Never rely on a common name. These can be misleading as some common names are given to several different plants (for example ‘Black Eyed Susan’ is the common name for Tetratheca thymifolia, Rudbeckia hirta and Thunbergia alata) and some plants have several different common names.
The scientific or Latin name has two parts. First is the genus followed by the species as in Grevillea juniperina. This is simplified but gives you the gist.
PBR or Plant Breeders Rights
This indicates that the plant has been bred and registered as such through a legal process which gives the breeder the sole right to produce clones of the plant for sale. This is akin to intellectual property rights.
Moderate water means that this plant will not like to go for long without some moisture.
Moist conditions is as it suggests…this plant prefers constant moisture in the soil.
Well drained soils. This can be ascertained by digging a hole (where you want to plant) big enough for a bucket of water. If this drains within ten minutes this is well drained soil.
Measured in height by width. Once you have this information you can plan how far apart to plant your plants. Tiny little plants do look very silly planted so far apart but it is good to be disciplined in this regard so that the plants can grow to their full potential. Don’t forget that these measurements are average only. If you give your plants extra food, water and super soil they are likely to be bigger than mine!!!
Hardy means that this plant will withstand freezing temperatures.
Coastal conditions means that this plant can withstand salt spray and coastal winds but does not necessarily mean that it cant also withstand inland heat, dry conditions or frost.
Suggestions on what the plant might be used for such as ‘hedge’, ‘pot plant’, ‘border’ are suggestions only.
LOCAL. Our labels at IDP Nursery additionally note if the plant is local. This is an indication that we have sourced our parent material from local grown indigenous plant stock.
I'm sure you will find plenty more confusing or ambiguous instructions on plant labels. If you have any queries at all we are always happy to answer plant questions. You can contact us via Facebook, email or phone.
If you have a bare block and have just moved on you may not be looking for shade plants right now. But be assured that as your garden grows you will have plenty of opportunity for plants which love shade. When you are planning a new garden design it is important to consider where the shade will fall from taller shrubs and trees. Trees or large shrubs to the north of the garden bed may shade far more than you bargained for as will a high hedge on the northern boundary.
If, however, you already have a mature garden with lots of lovely shady spots there are plenty of plants which will thrive in them. Sometimes plants will grow taller in shade than they would in the sun and some of them may need a little pruning if you are keen to keep them compact but on the whole those that like shade will just simply love the extra protection from a big brother tree or shrub.
There are usually a range of shade conditions in any mature garden including………………
# dappled shade such as under a tree with a light canopy,
# part shade conditions such as morning shade or afternoon shade. Areas which have morning shade and afternoon sun (for example west side of the house) are harsher on plants than those which have morning sun and afternoon shade for (example east side of the house)
# summer shade for example under deciduous trees
# full shade for example on the south side of the house or under a dense tree canopy.
# damp shade. In my garden I have damp shade where the envirocycle pumps out.
# dry shade which is at its worst under eucalyptus trees or other thirsty trees
And so to what will grow under Eucalyptus trees. There are plenty of hardy plants which will do the trick if you prepare the planting spot carefully. The trick is to get the plant growing quickly and strongly before the eucalyptus realises what is happening. I dig a decent sized area over for each plant making sure that I cut away surface roots. I mix plenty of compost to the existing soil, making sure there is enough excess soil to create a saucer around the plant for watering. Choose a vigorous looking plant specimen and plant in autumn or winter. Pay attention to the plant for a good couple of years through the summer months, keeping in mind that a little extra water will often make the plant grow faster even if it is a dry loving plant.
Under my own Eucalyptus trees I am growing Senna artemisioides, Philotheca myoporoides and Philotheca Winter Rouge, Eutaxia obovata, Derwentia perfoliata, Dodonaea sp, low and Dodonaea viscosa, Grevillea baueri, Grevillea iaspicula, Hakea salicifolia, Indigofera adesmiifolia, Lotus australis, Prostanthera scuttelarioides, Solanum linearifolium, Westringia glabra and W. Zena, Zieria prostrata, Correa decumbens, Correa glabra, Correa dusky bells, Correa upright pink, Linum marginale, Micrantheum hexandrum, and Banksia marginata.
Growing naturally in my paddocks under the Eucalyptus tree cover are Cheiranthera linearis, Dillwynia sericea, Hardenbergia violacea, Hovea linearis, Indigofera australis and Pultenaea subspicata.
If you are looking for grassland plants Poa labillardiera, Dianella longifolia, D. revoluta and D. tasmanica, Joycea pallida, Lomandra longifolia, L. tanika and L. filiformis and Themeda triandra will all work well.
We have many plants which will fit the bill when it comes to a range of shady conditions. In the next couple of days I will add the full list to the website so keep an eye out for that.
If you need specific advice on your particular conditions talk to either Iris or me when next you see us. We will be at Murrumbateman markets from 9am till 1pm on Saturday 22nd June or give us a call and arrange to come to see us up at the nursery.
Weeds!!! wadda you know? You turn around and there are weeds. Weeds everywhere. A little bit of cool weather and enough rain to get the soil surface wet and up they come. Have you found that weeds are excellent at hiding? One day not so long ago I realised that I was staring into the face of a Sow Thistle. Now I know I’m not that tall but a Sow Thistle as tall as me has to have been growing and hiding, hiding and growing for some time. Weeds also pop up behind my back. I weed a patch of soil, think its done, turn round and……….how could I have missed that one?
Some of my clients like me to spray their weeds with roundup but I am not very partial to its use so I use other methods of weed control in my own garden. Whether you have a little or a lot of garden it is well worth employing one or more of these methods so like me you can enjoy more time savouring your garden and less time weeding.
I hope that has given you plenty of useful ammo up your sleeves for keeping weeds at bay. Next fortnight, by popular demand, I hope to blog about plants which enjoy shade with some specifics about which of our plants will grow under Eucalyptus trees.