Patrick Laher

Patrick Laher

My small cottage and garage is situated on a 1200 square metre block, which was devoid of any trees or shrubs five years ago. The soil is grey acidic granite sand over clay, which is low in nutrients, well drained but retains moisture under a good layer of mulch. The worms [and curl grubs!] love the mulch and have increased dramatically.

The garden consists of thousands of Aussie plants from all over Oz. There are multiples of plant species, especially of the smaller growing varieties such as purple flags, daisy’s, pelargonium’s etc. The garden has flowers all year round.

Six metre tall growing mallee trees and shrubs, which have been planted along the garden perimeter, are interspersed with lower growing correa, grevillea, etc. and provide screening, shelter, flowers and bird habitat. The wattles especially are fantastic for small insectivorous birds such as Thornbills. Eucalyptus pulverulenta Baby Blue has large creamy yellow flowers and beautiful compact bluish foliage.

Small grassland and heath land plants [lily, bulbine, and butterfly flag] are planted along the front edge of gardens and pockets of these plants are also tucked in between shrubs. During the heat of summer, it’s these little treasures that provide the flowers. Small growing plants need more attention and are easily overpowered by their bigger cousins. By grouping them together, it is easier to water, prune and replace them as required. It will probably be too early to see the NSW Christmas Bells in flower.

The shallow dish sheltered between wattles is 35mm deep and is the ideal depth for small birds from which to drink and bath. Protection is essential for small birds. The frog pond has a shallow beach in the middle that allows Mudlarks, Willy Wagtails, Top Knots etc. to select the depth of their liking for drinking and bathing.

Severe frost is the major limiting factor in growing a wide range of plant varieties. As trees and large shrubs advance in size they will provide the protection of microclimate. The protection of my veranda allows me to grow 30 plus varieties of pot plants, mainly W.A. species. Many of the spectacular W.A. plants are coming onto the market as grafted plants, such as the Qualup Bell. I hope several grafted plants will be in flower on the veranda.

The garden will and has changed as plants grow and cast their shade over plants that were once in full sun. Shade tolerant species sometimes need to replace them. I carry out regular pruning of all shrubs, which is essential for good growth, space, and production of many more flowers.

Advice and many of the plant species seen in the garden will be available for sale. I hope that some of the plants in my garden will inspire you to have a go at growing them in your garden.