Thursday, January 23, 2014


I've been doing some work in the outer suburbs of Melbourne of late. Its made me aware of the trends most suburban blocks seem to have out here - very grubby front yards, with lots of weeds & too long grass. The plants are probably bought from the friendly Bunnings which seems to be the only place to buy anything remotely green in these parts. I think the majority of these dwellings have people who don't care too much about their garden, which I find oddly unsettling, but I've come to realise that there are probably more people who fit this category than not. Anyway, there are a few landscapes which have piqued my interest. They have tried at least...& it IS a change from the too long grass and multitude of weeds. This street, I'm in today has four houses with four completely different landscapes amongst the weeded frontages. One is your typical cottage garden complete with box hedges and standard roses. There are a few daisy bushes, Nandina domestica balls & Rosemary (obviously a favourite here, its everywhere). Although the box need a trim, its a very nice garden. Next we have a rock/black coloured mulch combo with Cordilines, Liriope, mondo grass & succulents. There is a retaining wall which divides the garden bed & grassy area. This wall is red and looks wonderful. Its not something I usually would go for but in this setting it works. I'm also not a fan of coloured mulch - it has no beneficial properties to it & some people say it could add nasties to the soil with the dyes used. Not a fan of mondo either so what makes this landscape work? The more I look at it, the more I like it. If I were to do it, I'd use different mulch and plants but the basic structure is good & I think thats what makes a good landscape. If you have the basic bones of a landscape, it should work out fine. 

The third landscape in this street is mostly succulents and natives. Again, the structure is there and it looks great. Except the David Austin roses looks a bit silly. BUT each to their own :) again stone is used in this landscape but they have used normal mulch. They also have a pebble path... Ugh, I dislike pebbles in landscapes. Sure, they look pretty but the maintenance to keep them that way almost isn't worth it. Also depends on the particle size. The fourth landscape Is very basic. It has no lawn (concrete or paving) and three oddly placed shrubs... In this this case, two Cypress shrubs with a lily pilly in between. Besides the fact that these will all grow way to big for where they are, it just looks what have I learnt? Landscapes work best once you have the foundations or good structure. And using plants which go well together. You can't pass up the classics like the good old cottage gardens, however these modern rock/mulch combos aesthetically work too. Incorporate that with a water feature and low to medium height plants - lovely and adding colour to a wall or fence (not mulch!!) is a delight! The bush landscape with a smattering of river stone & natives & succulents works well too. If you are going to have front lawn, please keep it mown. Love the smell of freshly mown grass... Sigh and on that note, I must be off...

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Heat wave & rambling

Hello, we're in the middle of the heat wave of this week and I'll admit, I'm not coping very well. Some of my plants are, some aren't. Its the negative point of having a lot of container plants as its harder to keep them constantly wet but on the other hand, its also easier to give them a drench than bedded plants... I have two potted tomatoes - exact same conditions but one is dying slowly & the other is thriving...the last few years have seen my fushias struggling at this time but this year, its doing wonderfully. I realise I haven't written for a while and I did think having the app would make it easier, but alas not...
Lately, I've been pondering shade... These new developments outer Melbourne are being slapped up quickly and two things they seem to have in common is the non-existence of public transport & shade. Public transport is a whole dofferent blog which I won't start on at this time. However, shade...For parks where children are play and especially at this time of the year, its a must but there are so many parks in these areas with no shade. Trees that have been planted which due to the choice or the climate of the particular suburb, they will not grow to huge trees any time soon. The only shade these places do have are from existing tree populations which have either been cut down or pruned so heavily that they might as well have been cut down. So how do we combat this potential problem? I don't know as there seeems to be more and more of these shadeless 'suburbs' around Melbourne. I think the plantings therefore need to be looked at. What's fashionable at the moment will not be 'good' everywhere! This is a problem. No shade means that the wildlife will be limited too. Are there water sources? Are there other plants which can neutralise the shade problem? No...there are no micro-communities and this does nothing for the environment as a whole and community.  Its also interesting that most of the plantings are native. This is a positive step, I guess as they would survive more readily in this harsh shadeless place. As long as they are established, they should be ok. Also if there is a water source and weeds don't suffocate plants. I'll sign off now with a photo of one such place. Beautiful but no shade. Thanks for listening. Keep cool!