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End of Summer ... Time to Reflect

My family and I have lived in the Golden Plains Shire for 8 years, the garden evolving and changing as we find a balance between the aesthetics we desire coupled with the time we choose to spend in the garden throughout the year.

Many of plants have been tried have shown great success but we too have had our fair share of failures and these which have simply not met our expectations. Some plants perform well at first but don’t survive a long dry spell, or get burnt on a day of extreme heat.  Others have drowned when our flat block and heavy clay soil left surface water lying around for days after a huge rain event.

Taking all these factors into consideration I thought I might share a few of my favourite which have not only survived but thrived no matter what our weather has thrown at them over the best part of a decade now.

 In our cottage garden we have three star performers.  The Red Hot Pokers ( Knifofia sp.) hold their green strappy foliage fresh and clean all summer then bear a mass of bright red/yellow flowers through the winter offering feed for an array of birds.  The Silver Pink Rock Rose ( Cistus Silver Pink) has mealy grey green foliage, remains compact( unlike some of its cousins), and flowers late winter through spring. Catmint is terrific.  We have a few varieties but Six Hills Giant suits the scale of our large garden beds where it gets 1m across and flowers for months on end.  In winter we cut it off to the ground and within weeks it’s a carpet of fresh green foliage again ready for a long season of blooms.

In our Native garden the silky Oak ( Grevillea robusta) makes a fine specimen tree. It drops a lot of leaves just prior to flowering which might be messy in smaller backyards but for me its just a sign of this tree about to reward us with its brilliant display of large orange spider like flowers.

Myall a small to medium wattle weeps gracefully with arching grey foliage.  Growing slower and living much longer than most wattles it’s a real treat in any garden.

Native fuchsias ( Correa sp.)  are a long time favourite, and  Marions Marvel lives up to its name.  Growing up to 1.5m high and wide, but smaller under my establish eucalypts, its bicolored flowers herald autumn and the shorter days and cooler nights as summer fades out.

Two natives local to our area which are unbreakable are the Gold Dust Wattle(Acacia acinacea) and drooping sheoak( Allocasaurina verticillata). Wattles got a bad name years ago after millions of fast growing, short lived varieties split and      all over our region. Unlike other wattles this small growing shrub is long lived prunes very well but rarely exceeds 1m in height.  I love its spring blossom and red tipped new growth shortly after.  The drooping sheoak is a very hardy weeping tree with pine like needles, each plant having a personality of its own.

I love hedges, the separate garden rooms, offer respite from wind  .  Fast growing hedges are too much work.  I prefer a slower growing hedge that might need pruning no more than 3 times per year and remain neat.  My Bay Tree Hedge is outstanding after 6 years.  It can grow tall if allowed but I am happy keeping it an around 1.5m tall where it shelters my vegetable garden from hot winds.  Its very tough with the advantage of having bay leaf on hand all year round to add to my winter stews and casseroles. A less common plant, which we have  hedged very well to around 1m tall is Meuhlenbeckia cotoneastifolia.  Its small leathery leaves and greyish new growth make it a hardy and reliable addition to our garden

With such a large garden, ground covers become very important as fillers and for weed suppression. Rosemary prostrate, Dwarf pink pigface, Grevillea obtusifolia, Pink Myoporum and  Correa nummularifolia are hardy and reliable performers in our garden.

Next time you’re out walking the dog, jogging or riding your bike, look to the star performers in the neighbourhood in which you live.  The likelihood is that if they are performing well locally they will in your garden too!

Cheers,  Chris