You may well remember our debate over what to do with the long, narrow and awkwardly steep section on the far side of our driveway. It was a pain to mow, so needed to be planted out with…something. But it’s also where our view over the rolling green hills is orientated, so we didn’t want anything to block it out, just fence height ideally. I had goals of a long privet or clipped camellia or Mexican orange blossom hedge, something evergreen and ‘traditional’. Matt however had visions of sprawling native ground covers and assorted shrubbery that we would keep trimmed to fence height. I’ll let you see who won that battle…
Ahem… But honestly? I’m glad we did the assorted native shrubs now. We planted majority as tube stock which we bought in bulk at Farmworld, and I’ve picked up a few larger pots on sale from local nurseries when I’ve seen them (banksias, waratahs, king proteas, blushing brides…) Because we bought trays of 40 odd ball tubes we didn’t really know what we were going to get, some have been pleasant surprises and some I am not so keen on. The grasses and giant prickly bushes in particular! Which of course are the ones that have grown the most. I am actually seriously considering pulling them out before they get much bigger to deal with. Life’s too short to have ugly plants in your garden, right?
Excuse the early morning garden fairy running about in her pyjamas and ‘tap shoes’.
We protected the little tubes with tree guards as experience has told us that our neighbourhood rabbits have a tendency to munch things to bare twigs overnight. Now most of the plants are up and away, and have survived! We had a few casualities along the way, as to be expected, but Australian/South African natives are hardy little buggers. I thought they would all be frost tolerant but this years harsh and heavy frosts proved me wrong, some of the pretty delicate thryptomene’s got a knock this Winter unfortunately. Upon closer inspection though they seem to still be alive so with a good Spring and Summer they should bounce back.
The absolute blessing of this long stretch of boundary garden is that for the next few years it will be irrigated! Having spuds planted around the house and the irrigator going around and around during the warmer months is a boon for my garden. Some of the pretty eucalypts have grown enormously since last Summer, along with wine-hued foliaged shrubs, white ‘shady lady’ waratah and everlasting daisies. I have high hopes that in a few more seasons I will have armloads of native flowers to pick and arrange on the farmhouse kitchen table. Yes, Matt I can hear your “I told you so’s” and eyeballs rolling from here, a privet or camellia hedge just wouldn’t have been the same. Not to mention we really hope this garden attracts lots of birds to Brindabella…
Over the past few weekends we have taken barrow load after barrow load from our ‘Mulch Mountain’ (as Eleanor calls it, we got about four truckloads of mulch delivered from the guys who were trimming the trees on the main road) to finish mulching this narrow stretch up our driveway. A big job now done – we did have the Manitou one day to help, enormously, with big bucket loads of mulch over the fence nearly drowning the poor little plants! But now there’s not much more to do but watch these beauties grow and spread and do their thing…
A lot of the gums and larger shrubs will need to be trimmed to be kept the height we want them, so it’s not an entirely maintenance free solution. We also planted them a bit thick probably, but assumed we would lose some along the way. I’m so looking forward to watching this space grow and evolve over time, with the added bonus of hardy natives, cut flowers, bird attractions and solving the problem of what on earth to do with the awkward narrow stretch along the driveway. It’s funny, my mum was a big native plant aficionado – the extensive garden I grew up with was laden with king proteas and waratahs and leucadendrons. I think sometimes you naturally sway to the unknown though – my rambling cottage garden of my dreams is far from what my childhood garden was, in fact it’s much more what Matt grew up with. And perhaps that is the appeal – the grass looks so much greener on the other side! Now, as my gardening style has grown and evolved along with me, I find myself returning to the native roots and swinging back to what I know. My husband has made a native gardener out of me after all!
The prickly plants, grasses and close growing plants will all encourage “little birds” in your garden as they give them a safe place to hide and nest. Have a look at this http://www.habitatnetwork.org/creating%20small%20bird%20habitat.pdf
Your driveway looks lovely! Melindi
Thank you Melindi, excellent resource! I hadn’t even thought of this (lightbulb moment!)
I am a reluctant native gardener too Emma. I always dreamed I’d have a highly manicured English garden when I moved to the farm but we inherited an established if somewhat neglected native garden so we will work with what we’ve got I think. Please don’t pull out your prickly plants, they are a wonderful habitat for tiny birds who can seek refuge in their foliage from predators .
I had not even thought of that! Der. Great idea. Thank you!
Same here! I love the cottage garden look, but the easy care natives have sucked me in, along with the gorgeous native flower arrangements I see plastered all over the internet! So, I picked up my first batch of “natives” (native to South Africa that is!) just the other day ready to plant in our native patch. But we’re aiming for a cottage garden bed and a native bed, so hopefully we’ll have a good balance. For some strange reason, “native” to me seems to translate into “hardy”, when I know it’s supposed to mean “Australian”. Ha ha!
Haha you’re speaking my language! I ‘let’ Matt have this stretch of natives (and another little patch out the side of the house) with the proviso that the rest of the garden remain traditional and cottagey. Seems to be working so far.