Sure less is more, and variety can be restricted by the size of the garden you are looking to plant, but with a reasonable space and minimal plantings, where's the interest?
We love the idea of creating gardens to live in, not just to view. To live in a garden means that there is an element of interaction; this could mean effective lighting to enhance spaces and form such as the large limbs of trees in early evening, or planting a grove of fastigiate trees in odd numbers to create a particular effect.
So how do you create interest? The answer lies in texture and form. Using plants and trees intelligently will not only make for a safe outdoors environment but it makes the time spent in the garden more enjoyable whether that is lounging with friends around the BBQ or playing with your kids. Here’s how to make great gardens to live in, not just good to look at!
Using soft to touch plants as borders around walkways is a good idea over spiky grasses and pointy succulents. How often do you have to duck and weave tree limbs and plants that invade the walk space? They are often stiff and pointed with the potential to harm. Ignoring the lack of maintenance done to keep the foliage at bay, if the same path was bordered by ‘soft to touch’ plants, trees and shrubs, the experience would be much different and over-growth less annoying. Plants at waist height can arouse a sense of touch and I have often waved my hands along the top of a row of plants just to feel their effect on my skin. ‘Soft to touch’ plants are safer for kids to accidentally fall on and instinctively captivate kids who want to sample and explore deeper territory along the path or in the depths of the garden.
Here are some great examples of soft foliage for walkways and garden beds. For height, Agonis flexuosa ‘Burgundy’ is a form of willow myrtle with a beautiful weeping habit and spectacular dark burgundy foliage. As an evergreen, it remains a focus all year-round. The pendulous nature of its foliage makes this tree graceful and airy. Fine, richly coloured foliage accentuates its form making it a very popular small feature tree. Another specimen with pendulous branches and beautiful weeping habit is Acacia cognata. Growing to a shapely shrub of between 4-6m tall, it also has instant ‘touch-me’ appeal courtesy of its fine, cascading foliage. Newer low growing forms such as Acacia cognata 'Lime Magik' and ‘River Cascade’ are becoming very popular selections for both commercial and residential landscapes.
For screening, the medium sized tree Waterhousea floribunda 'Whisper' also has that pendulous foliage and a full habit that works so well to soften fence lines and structures. This is a good evergreen selection for screening out nosey neighbours. Used behind garden beds, its strong and purposeful form is complemented by graceful foliage.
For dramatic form, clumping Bamboo makes a bold statement whether it is used for screening or as an accent planting among other shrubs and trees.
Adenanthos serica also known as ‘Woolly Bush’ could not be more accurate a description either. This large shrub or small feature has beautiful fine icy green foliage. It makes a great live Christmas tree with an open growing habit and soft needle-like foliage. Fantastic red flowers are a bonus.
Silver birch (betula pendula 'Moss White) is a tree suitable to use as a single feature or planted in a group for a woodland garden affect. These textured white trunked specimens look mysteriously fantastic lit up during summer months. I once lived next to a house with a multiple planting of silver birch trees. These were established 10 metre tall trees and at night the owners would shine lights into the limbs halfway up creating their own outdoor mood lighting. While you don’t have to go to this extent, it does make for a fantastic affect that can be viewed from both inside and outside the home.
This technique simply uses the form of an established tree to add additional focus. Same can be done in daylight hours with trees that have unusual trunk patterns or bark. There are a number of selections to consider for this dual effect of form and texture. Gingko biloba is a beautiful tree with distinctive trunk and unique fan-shaped leaves. The native Corymbia maculata or ‘Spotted Gum’ has an elegant whitish grey trunk with brown spots hence its name. While the original is 30 metres tall, the much smaller grafted version Corymbia maculata ‘Lowanna’ is now available for urban gardens. For colour, form and texture, Lagerstroemia or Crepe Myrtle is a key selection that ticks all the boxes. These are deciduous, so trees are flush with leaf and bold flowers in summer, offer fantastic autumn colour, and are stark and mysterious with in winter. Their trunks are great to touch, smooth and hard even in the height of summer. This is a fantastic year-round plant for optimum garden interest.
So take the time to think about what is your particular style is. And your own discoveries will assist to identify the likes of your clients. Knowing what works well together is a matter of experience and at the very heart of creating individual gardens. Depending on the brief, the dull garden can be avoided.
Be inspired and be adventurous. The need to heighten perceptions in the garden will open your eyes to many, many more options for both texture and form and will ensure we get a greater variety of plants back into people’s lives.
With good autumn colour and long summer flowering, this variety makes a great specimen tree for the small garden or landscape. An Upright from and intense flowering will have the you and the neighbours talking about it for months. With an attractive smooth trunk, this species has a lot going for it. Try ours in 33cm, 40cm, 50 and 100 litres.
This is one of our favourite trees and and Australian icon. This image is of the one outside the office window - a simply magnificent specimen. Its height is an issue for residential gardens but in large rural properties it would stand strong and majestic. A consideration for parks and gardens. We have good numbers in 50, 100 & 150 litres.
Maidenhair Tree is very long lived and the oldest species in the world. A beautiful tree with fan shaped leaves with veins spreading from the stalk of the leaf. It develops short catkins and yellow fruit. The foliage turns golden in Autumn. Makes for a fantastic feature tree. Our choice selection is in 40cm and 100 litres. Be quick!
A very popular tree for its upright growth and stunning white trunk. Great planted en masse in a forest like effect. Bright green foliage turns to a pale yellow in Autumn and drops completely in winter. This tree is moderate growing so is well suited to street plantings, parks and gardens. We have good numbers available now in 50 litres.
Appropriately known commonly as 'Woolly Bush', this shrub-like tree is covered in fine, ferny silver grey foliage. With real 'feel appeal' it is great for contrast in the landscape. A favourite tree not just at Christmas but all year round.
A signature tree for us, ours is a denser variety great for screening. It has a wonderful pendular habit with narrow linear green leaves. New growth is reddish-brown giving it added omph in the late winter, early spring garden. We have got to the Waterhousea kings in this department. Come and talk to us about any size - 33cm through 300 litres.
This is a a graceful weeping shrub with fine bright green foliage that forms a rounded bush about 75cm tall and a metre wide. This is a good selection for low hedges and for visual interest in the garden in a hot dry position. These are beautiful and available for viewing in 33cm & 50 litres.
This lime green, pendulous large shrub to small tree produces an abundance of soft yellow flowers during late winter and spring. Its colour and fine weeping foliage makes it a stunning specimen tree or contrast planting. We have great stock ready to go in 33cm and 40cm.
This tree bears white clusters of flowers which last for a long time. It has a beautiful weeping habit and spectacular dark burgundy coloured leaves. The leaves are aromatic when crushed. Imagine a screen with these beauties. 33cm, 40cm and 50 litre stock is dense and full - ready to go now!