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Australian Plants for Adelaide Gardens - Planning the Garden

Page 3 of 12

Planning the Garden

When planning your garden observe the natural landscape around your property, the landform, soil and rocks, the animals and vegetation, and then try and fit your plan into this environment with minimum disturbance.

Designs evolved around existing contours and taking advantage of local materials such as stone and native vegetation are more likely to be in harmony with the surrounding landscape.This point is particularly relevant to gardens in the Mount Lofty Ranges where in places, increasing human impact is causing environmental decay.

If your property is in the Ranges, try and play your part in preserving this beautiful area of our State. Unless the people who live there want the character and beauty of the Ranges to be retained and enhanced by saving and recreating areas of natural vegetation, then the Ranges are going to regress still further.

A collection of beautiful plants does not necessarily make a beautiful garden. Plants should be chosen to relate to each other and to the area for which they are intended, giving shape, form and harmony to the total space. For example, broad- leaved tropical species such as the Queensland Umbrella Tree (Schefflera actinophylla) would look out of place among a massed planting of fine-leaved, dry area species, not to mention the quite different watering demands.

In this regard, species of reasonably similar watering, nutrient and climatic requirements should be located together because they usually relate visually as well as functionally - and don't be afraid to use a massed planting of the one species, which can often be more rewarding than a mixture.

If you prefer a mixed garden with some natives and some exotic plants, be very careful in your siting. Many natives (but not all), particularly in the heavy soils, grow too lush if over-watered, resulting in weak plants prone to disease and wind damage. Some of the hard-wooded myrtaceous species such as most Callistemon and some Melaleuca, are so hardy that they thrive with, or without extra watering. Hence such species are ideal for providing an informal living edge to a lawn, especially if the lower growing bushy types are chosen.

Above all, a garden is a place to be used and enjoyed. So in designing your garden, consider how it will best suit your needs. How a mound or a dense shrubbery can be used to soften a hard line or create a pleasant private enclosure, perhaps a secluded play area for children; how a pathway can be used to disappear through dense shrubbery as an element of surprise and interest, or surface run-off used to create a hollow as a natural drainage area where special water loving plants can be grown. A good garden, like a well designed house, is more successful when it performs its intended functions.

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