Gardening with Native Plants

West Australian plants are intricately beautiful and with a little bit of planning can provide colour year-round. If your native garden is looking a bit ‘lost’, dishevelled and uninspiring, there are reasons for this occurring and solutions to reclaiming an inspirational garden.

The art of native gardening is a style of gardening that does not have a common garden knowledge. Gardening knowledge is typically shared between generations and influenced through common interests amongst families. As many people came to our shores, the knowledge from their mother country came with them. Today’s garden knowledge is consistently connected to planting exotics, lawn, food gardens and rose gardens. So, it is understandable when stepping into a native gardening space and seeking native gardening information that it may seem complex, overwhelmingly ‘botanically-scientific’ and the plant information generalised across Australia.

Today, home gardeners are encouraged by industry, local government and state government through incentive programs to plant native verges and backyard gardens, be more waterwise, consider flora and fauna and be more sustainable. However, finding the right native plant for your garden may feel new and intimidating, and not knowing which native plant to choose or where it may go in your garden may feel bewildering. There are so many other questions along the way, such as how much water does it need? Which fertiliser is the best to use? There is so much to remember when selecting plants at the nursery, and then getting them home means more decisions to be made on location and care.

Gardening with native plants is not about getting the botanical or common plant names right or wrong. It is more about taking the time to connect with the amazing beauty of the flowers and the plants’ relationship with local fauna. Plants are very smart; they have adapted over time to live here, in the oldest sand in the world. So, on a practical level, what is required to grow a native garden?

resized 20170306_151537 There are three questions when selecting native plants for your garden:

  • What plant is going to attract local fauna, such as birds or beneficial insects that pollinate vegetables and fruit trees and provide a food source for other birds.
  • What colours are in season now? This may be aesthetic for you, or have a deeper meaning. There are six Aboriginal seasons in the southwest of WA, for example. Each season has a dominant colour that has connections to insects. These colours achieve a flow for flowering plants throughout the year.
  • What do you want the garden to feel like? Do you want areas that are soft and inviting, strong and protecting, low and hardy or cool and shady?

These questions are designed to help you think local and support local ecology. Native gardening is about having a garden to learn from, relax in and be inspired by. It is also a garden that provides seasonal colour and is hardy enough to tolerate the hot summers, reducing your worry regarding their care and that of a climbing water bill.

These joyful aspects enable open thoughts of how smart these beautiful native plants are, and how wonderful our clever country is. Gardens can be a valuable asset in inviting local biodiversity into our homes. The combination of all of the elements is why Boxed Green in WA created a workshop to connect into this natural intelligence and support home gardeners to transition their gardens into a magic piece of cleverness.

Boxed Green workshops provide the understanding on how to grow a West-Australian native garden and visually how the plants’ shape will look from installation to establishment. Boxed Green work with personal expectations, provide insight to old native gardening beliefs and myths, and introduce specialised gardening methodology to achieve success.

In these specialised workshops you will see how to achieve the ongoing seasonal colour with smart plants and the sand you have. You will learn about the differences in installation of a native garden versus other styles, and how these plants show you their coping mechanisms and key signals for needing water and food. These workshops are designed to share ageless secrets of native plants and begin a learning of the art of gardening.

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resized logoAbout the Author – Sue Dempster
Sue is passionate on sharing the connection that people can have with nature in their backyard. She and husband Graeme launched Boxed Green to create an urban wildflower corridor across the Perth metro area by creating eco-gardens. Boxed Green runs workshops and garden visits for home gardeners with practical information on gardening with West Australian Plants and how to create an eco-friendly garden.

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