Designer Natives

Exotic and ornamental plants are often promoted heavily with flashy labels and plenty of media exposure. Once upon a time Australian native plants just didn’t get the same attention. There’s now a growing trend to grow hardy, indigenous, climate adaptable plants that has seen a shift in the propagation industry producing fantastic new hybrids and grafted specimens. In times past gardeners saw natives as harsh scratchy uninviting plants usually in over planted gardens with little care for design. Today’s new cultivars and varieties are being breed to succeed in water wise, sustainable gardening projects. I see a change in Sustainable Landscape design using native plants with soft foliage and impressive shapes and sizes to suit residential homes highlighting low maintenance, bird and native bee attracting. The marketing of this concept for sustainable gardens has proven that the humble Aussie native is a useful tool in landscaping design for the future. The nursery industry is now having a flood of designer natives arriving in the retail market. Our Native plants are becoming internationally known for their rare beauty with events such as the Chelsea flower show, where this year, The ‘Flemings nursery crew,’ took out the 2013 best in show award.

Hymenosporum flavum, The native frangipani is a large growing slender tree which many people do not have the space for. The designer Frangipani “Golden nugget’ is a gorgeous topiary style with the same beautifully perfumed cream-yellow flowers which everyone would have room for in the ground or in a large pot. The crown is so easy to clip back into a ball shape and when not in flower it’s a gorgeous lush evergreen topiary that adds a real soft formal feature to the garden.

Have you ever stood in Chiltern forest at the base of a magnificent red spotted gum? Eucalyptus mannifera is an awesome specimen to stand under and just look up into this incredibly large tree which has a smooth powdery white trunk displaying reddish patches in early summer, a real feature to take your breath away. Not really a good idea to plant in a residential backyard but wait someone had the initiative to create a dwarf specimen called Eucalyptus mannifera ‘Little spotty’. If you have space for a designer Eucalypt, ‘Little spotty’ will grow to a height of 5-7 metres.  They have delightful cream flowers which will be a big draw card to bring honey eating birds to your garden. The red flowering gum, Corymbia ficifolia was one of the first to be marketed in this way. The red flowering gums are usually seed grown so there was no guarantee of what colour flower you would get. We now can buy a range of colours in the ‘Summer beauties’ range and have a 5 metre high tree which otherwise would normally be at least 10 metres and we get to choose not just red but pink, cream or orange flowers to suit your garden design. Designer Australian natives are a real bonus for the home gardener.

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