catmint garden stats: origins of plant species

My garden can be seen as a collection of plants. A collection that wasn't  planned.  It just evolved over  30 years as I experimented, worked out what I liked, what went with what, and - most importantly - what would survive. 

Contrary to what I wrote a few posts ago, the garden isn't finished, it's still evolving. Since writing that post I have changed my mind, done a back flip worthy of a politician. 

The total number of species in the database is 129 (today).  Where do they come from?  Most come from Australia - 42. Next largest group is from Europe - 32. Most of the other species are divided fairly evenly between Asia, North America, South Africa and the Mediterranean region - about 11 from each area.  Finally, 3 species come from New Zealand and 3 from the Canary Islands (located off the coast of northwest Africa).

Yarrow comes from the Northern hemisphere
 The climate over the whole of Australia is so varied that unless you plant purely local plants there doesn't seem to be much point in being restricted to Australian indigenous plants. Besides, I have enjoyed experimenting to see what works well here. Answer: Plants from Europe, Asia, the Mediterranean, South Africa, North America, New Zealand and the Canary Islands.

Hellebores come from Eurasia
I guess it is not surprising that so many plants originated in Europe.  I grew up in an Australia that largely identified with England (the 'mother country') and Europe instead of neighbouring Asia. When I got into gardening I saw myself making a cottage garden. My garden influences were Vita Sackville West, Gertrude Jekyll, Edna Walling (who had been influenced by Gertrude Jekyll) and the paintings of Monet and his garden in Giverny.  I was also influenced by William Robinson who was Irish and pioneered the paradoxical, exciting and appealing idea of a wild garden.

California poppy: Californa has a Mediteranean climate
Most of the plants originating in Asia came from China or Japan. Such as Japanese anemones, magnolia stellata  and mondo grass.  I have visited China and was entranced by the parks and gardens, and even by simple roadside plantings.  I haven't been to Japan but admire the aesthetics and philosophy of Japanese gardens.

Ivy is native to Eurasia
The Mediterranean  region covers parts of 3 continents: Asia, Africa and Europe. The Mediterranean climate includes parts of California, Australia, Chile, South Africa and Central Asia. Plants from these places have done well in my garden and been pretty drought resistant.  Examples are Californian poppies, yarrow, ivy, honeysuckle and mint.

Honeysuckle comes from the Northern hemisphere


  1. Hi catmint! You've got loads of plants all over! Very multicultural garden you have there :) I love honeysuckle, must grow some.

  2. Oh is that yarrow? Very pretty flowers.I got some seeds from our local seed-saver group but have not sowed them yet. I am not very good in flowers and herbs.

  3. I think a lot of gardeners are collectors, as opposed to painters, and want to see what will grow where. And every year is different.

  4. I just came back from the nursery with 3 new types of plant, just (as I said in my head) to experiment and see if I like them.

  5. I also see my garden as a collection. There are just too many plants in the world to restrict yourself to just one theme / origin. The challenge is to have them work together in a harmonious yet interesting way...

  6. I so admire that you have categorized all your plants and know their origins. That is just a fantastic feat! I should take after you. With a fairly new garden, I could keep up. And, oh, what beautiful plants you have! Thank you for sharing such knowledge.

  7. Catmint, noted your reply on Viola. Thanks. You will see it in my blog if everything turns out find (fingers crossed!) ;-)

    I didn't know where some of my plants were from. Will see how. I have some notes here and there. But must well start to put them together.

    I am amazed you came up with 129 plants already. The handful of plant records I have has taken me weeks to complete the details.

  8. Your climate is very different from mine, for sure, but at least catmint does well in both our gardens! Nice picture of the hellebore (which also does fine around here).

  9. I love you collection and I am very impressed that you know the geographical location of the origins of your plants. I am not nearly so knowledgeable. I guess that is why I struggle with suggest in my experimentations.

  10. Catmint - having to 'screen' plants for their suitability, and adjusting your own preferences to the species that can survive, teaches a gardener a great deal. Are there plants you'd like to have that you can't, or have you relinquished them? Are there plants you have in your garden you'd rather not have, but have allowed to exist because they can? - Faisal.

  11. Hello Catmint, strange as it might sound I'm glad to hear that you have decided that your garden is not 'finished'. It means we have more to look forward to as we see it move into where you go with it next :) That yarrow is very pretty and it's good to know that if it grows in your garden, it may well do so in mine!

  12. Dear Cyber-friends, thank you so much for your comments.

    Dear Mrs Bok, Diggers club sells honeysuckle if you're interested, the non-weedy kind.

    Dear MKg, Funny, I feel confident with flowers and herbs (some anyway) but I'm no good with veg.

    Hi Hermes, I like to think of myself as collector and painter - I think there is a future post there ...

    Hi Jess, good luck, enjoy the experiment.

    Hi Phoebe, yes - the challenge - I agree.

    Hi TVF, I needed to do it for the blog because I could never remember the names to write about the plants. You can do if you have the time and motivation. But your blog is wonderful anyway.

    Hi Steph, yes it has been very time consuming but quite easy to look up wikipedia or other sites.

    Hi VW, yes it's fascinating how some plants thrive in such widely different climates.

    Hi LH, thank you, I am just finding out what an interesting history plants have.

    Dear Faisal, yes - there are lots of plants I'd like to have but can't either because they're not suited to the climate or because I can't find a suitable place for them in the design. And yes to your next question - there are weeds, subjective or objective, and if they can't be eradicated (like many in my long term experiment) I just have to learn to live with them. I guess it's a kind of spiritual or psychological lesson: we can't control everything and can't have everything we want.

    Hi GG, yarrow is a wonderful herb and it is supposed to speed up the compost process and also makes healthy tea. I can give you some runners if you like.

    cheers, catmint


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