native nursery, critique of native nursery and "native" wildflower

About an hour's drive from my house is Kuranga Nursery.

 Kuranga stocks a huge range of native Australian plants. If it's native, you'll probably pick it up there.

It's also a very attractive place, at the edge of suburbia with a bushy feel to it.

I looked up Kuranga to see what it meant. I thought it must mean something in the local indigenous language.

 It's a Hindi male name, meaning deer.  Go figure ...

I saw a kookaburra, but it was camera shy and flew away before I could take its photo.

I'd picked up some Ptilotus exaltatus at Bunnings. I thought I'd get some more because I love them and they remind me of being in the Flinders Ranges in South Australia where they grew wild and prolifically.

In Kuranga they helpfully classify the plants in relation to how hardy and reliable they are. P. exalata scored a "Fuss Pot" grade, so I didn't buy any. I thought I'd wait and see how the ones already in my garden got on.

It was a good decision, because is how they look now in my garden ...

I don't mind a short flowering time for a plant, but to earn its place it needs to self seed or at least provide structure when it's not flowering. This one has no structure. Will it self seed in my garden? Maybe. I hope so, but won't hold my breath.

The climate of the Flinders Ranges is one of high rainfall, as well as periods of drought. It is a very different climate to that of Melbourne.

At the recent International Landscape Conference held in Melbourne, one of the speakers spoke disparagingly of Kuranga because it had so many species of Australian plants for sale.

It was only the other day when I was reading Tim Low's book The New Nature, that I understood why this person spoke like that. A native plant doesn't mean anything in a country like Australia - a continent encompassing a huge climate range.

Defining a plant by its political boundaries just doesn't make sense. Plants are biological beings that do not respect borders. Lots of "native" plants have become terrible weeds, just as lots of "exotic" plants become well behaved environmentally useful citizens.

More of this for another post ...


  1. Our garden is a mixture. Some very happy exotics, and some equally happy natives. Where I can I try and get 'local' natives. And the birds thank me. And, speaking of natives, at the moment a small flock of rainbow lorikeets are visiting. The bird books say that they are 'out of area'. And they seem happy too. And are welcome.

  2. Generally there is a beneficial relationship between native plants and native organisms right down to microorganisms in the soil, a balance of prey and predator species, the ability to withstand the vagaries of local weather etc. I am all for planting native and we do nothing but. But native means native to where we live. Canada is a huge country (as is Australia of course) and what is native on the west coast, or in the arctic, would not do well here, and could not be considered native to the region.

  3. I completely agree catmint. Many 'wild plants' became weed here too and do not suit in different climate zones. I always learn about this because my climate is mild maritime without deep frost and hard hot.
    When I'm in nurseries I used to learn the hardiness and zone for any plant.

  4. It was interesting to hear that Ptilotus is classified as a "fuss pot." It arrived on the nursery scene here a few years ago and I of course picked some up but they weren't strong performers for me either. Discussions of native plants here drive me crazy as, with few exceptions, neither nurseries or pundits make distinctions based on what the plants actually need in terms of an ecosystem. California is a large and very diverse state and what grows in my own coastal scrub area is very different from the plants normally touted for use locally in "native" plant gardens.

  5. It looks like a wonderful nursery. I look forward to your post about native plants.

  6. It's true that it is pretty meaningless to say that a plant is native because it grows on the same continent. I like native plants from this region of the USA, which has a fairly distinct climate. And I grow some exotics that are well-adapted to our location.

  7. I reckon that here in Scotland we would be very limited if we were to stick to native plants. Kuranga looks like a great place, nah, I cant figure out the connection with Deer.

  8. The same here - indigenous to South Africa, doesn't mean it will necessarily be happy in Cape Town's mediterranean climate. Tomorrow I am going to a dedicated lowland fynbos nursery ...

  9. I love to stroll around a nursery.
    Looks like a wonderful place to spend a morning.
    I love native wildflowers and grow many in the garden.


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