a new garden vision

Now that summers can be so hot and dry a new gardening aesthetic and practice is needed.

The garden style or design I aspire to can be thought of as mock–wild. Since I am situated in Australia, my notions of wild came partly from our English colonial roots – green, leafy, shady – and partly from our indigenous landscape – gum trees, other flowering trees and shrubs of various shapes and sizes, and spiky grasses as contrast. But the use of indigenous plants was still used in a cottage garden style: densely planted, pretty and varied plantings.

In Australia there exists an extremely wide range of ecosystems. I have been basing my garden on mild temperate climatic conditions. Now I am thinking about using a desert template. On a hot summer day I think a lush green garden looks decadent, out of place, even a bit silly.

About a year ago I had a camping holiday in central Australia. This was a wildness that got under my skin and into my heart.

When I got back I changed my nature strip from lawn to granitic sand, with the odd rock and a couple of tough indigenous plants. I love the look of it and it is easy to maintain.

Maybe this will be the dominant influence in the next stage of my evolving garden. Despite this extremely challenging summer I have regained hope and have an exciting new garden vision.


  1. Working with the climate is really the best. We here in Tennessee are also rethinking our strategies. I am not quite as far along as you but see my garden changing as well. Lots of cactus and yuccas probably:) Hopefully the rain will come soon.

  2. It certainly fits with your latest hot, dry weather!! :-) Do you have cacti and desert succulents there?

    Gardening shouldn't be stressful!!

  3. Interesting ideas, Catmint. It sound like a wise path to take for your area. Did you see the pictures I posted of the garden at a Spanish mission in California? Eventually, I realized the pictures didn't show a whole lot of plants, but a garden feel can come from dirt paths, a few trees, and a fountain. Not every garden has to be lush and full-to-the-brim.
    Good luck with the new direction! - VW

  4. Hi Catmint, You really have had a tough summer with all the heat and drought...I hope you will get some relief soon. Your new idea may just be the thing for your area and climate. I hope it will work out for you!

  5. I canm understand yiur thoughts. I posted a picture of railways tracks buckling under the heat nr Adelaide on another blog. We will all need to adjust to a changing world and I think the plant breeders will need to help us.

  6. I think you are quite right. Wotking with the nature instead of against it is much easier and also looks better. Here in Sweden many people wish to plant Mediterranean plants - but they just don't work here. Still, people spend a lot of time and money trying, and trying, and trying....
    Have a nice day /Helen

  7. This comment has been removed by the author.

  8. Hi Tina, one of the wonderful things about this blogging thing is sharing challenges and strategies with people from faraway places. (You probably think I'm from a faraway place but I think you are.)

  9. Hi Shady Gardener, yes people are increasingly using these plants. I have noticed over the past few years that plant nurseries stock a smaller range of plants, and mostly drought resistant ones. I have not loved cacti and succulents up till now - now I am thinking how to combine them into a picture I will love.

  10. Hi VW, I can't find the Spanish Mission garden pictures - what date did you post them? Thanks for your helpful comment - I have also been thinking of exploring the idea of simple zen gardens and doing things with stones.

  11. Hi Hermes, being helped by plant breeders - I find that a scary thought.

  12. Hi Helen, yes here too people try to grow exotic plants that just don't like our climate. I love every aspect of gardening except watering the garden - except for pots of course, they have to be watered.

  13. Hi Catmint, I agree with you too, go with the appropriate plantings for your climate. We have been inching toward the xeric here with our drought of recent years. I have even planted seeds of a native Australian plant, Actinotis helianthi, is that what is in your top photo?

  14. You are right catmint to adapt the garden to the climate. In the 20 years my garden exists it has seen dry and wet years. My plants are fairly well balanced to survive both. Certainly I may lose some in either extreme. A garden is a living thing so changes are always ongoing. On the farm my garden consisted practically of natives. With all the tough bottlebrushes and Banksias it was also a vibrant garden. Thank you catmint for your visit. Yes the sunrise is from my garden. SkyWatch is fun.

  15. Catmint,
    I was worried about you after reading the horrific headlines about the wildfire deaths in your area, but was relieved when I looked up Camberwell on the Google maps wildfire map and saw that your immediate area seems to be safe. Is it smoky near your home? Let us all know how you're doing when you get a chance!
    And here's the link to the January 6 spanish mission post: http://vwgarden.blogspot.com/2009/01/garden-fountain-at-la-purisima.html
    Best wishes - VW

  16. Hi Frances, I don't know what the wildflowers are in the photo, they were growing in the Western McDonnell ranges, west of Alice Springs. They are not like the Actinotis I am familiar with, which have a different flower and habit. I am interested how you go with these in your garden. I look forward to ongoing sharing of our growing xeric knowledge.

  17. VW, thanks for your concern. The bushfires have been horrific. They directly affect people in the countryside not in the inner cities, and also people living in the outer suburbs which joins the bush. Yesterday was the most horrible scary day. Really really hot with strong hot winds. The fate of my garden is truly trivial compared to the huge loss of life and property.

  18. Hi Catmint - thanks for your visit over at my place.

    You raise some very important points here and I love the changes you made to your nature strip.

    The use of native plants and those adapted to local climate conditions are two major themes all of us need to tackle over the next few years.

    And as you say, the result is something that almost looks after itself.

    Our news is full of the dreadful scenes from Victoria today. I hope you and your family are all safe and well.

  19. Hi Catmint.
    Thanks for visitng the Nature of Robertson, today.
    We do need a name for the Fires.
    I trust the Red Cross to manage the Appeal well. Lets hope so, anyway.
    Your crushed granite mulch would have been hot, but strangely, it does work well, as it reflects much of the heat.

  20. I just read of the difficult fires in Australia. I do hope all is well with you and yours, and all my Australian blogging friends.


Post a Comment