Steve Thiele and Sue Vile

Steve Thiele And Sue Vile


This garden is on a one-hectare block in south-eastern Armidale with an easterly aspect, though there is some northern slope. It is within the old Armidale stream beds. The indigenous rock is ironstone conglomerate derived from a basalt cap. The soil is very poor but well drained, so good for Australian natives.

Until 30 years ago the block was used as a night paddock for sheep and hence was very weedy. It had around thirty mature or semi-mature eucalypts (red and manna gums). Ten large exotic trees, mainly Chinese poplars and box elder maples, were retained.

The garden was not planned in detail, but developed according to some rules of thumb:

  • Use brick paving and rock walls where the garden meets the house.
  • Leave the northern side of the house exposed to the sun for passive and active solar.
  • Protect the house from westerly winds.
  • Use mass planting in landscaped blocks.
  • Have large areas of mown grass to give a sense of space and provide long lines of sight.
  • Use rock walls and edgings to create visual continuity.
  • Control water movement and runoff, in the final instance by a small dam in the lowest corner.
  • Increase the mass and variety of native plant and animal life.

The first plantings of eucalypts, acacias and large shrubs were around the perimeter of the block and later included the laneway on the southern side. These plantings are being extended along the roadside. Some are ready to be coppiced for firewood. More recent plantings of eucalypts began at the back of the house and were then extended around the sides. A few thousand Australian native plants, some 500 species, have been planted. The mown area is slowly being reduced.

There are a few distinguishing features in this garden:

  • Low growing plants have been extensively used (violets, dichondra and viola).
  • Various grasses, eg. lomandras, microlaena and grass trees have been widely planted.
  • We have tried to select plants, or prune them, to develop banks of plantings that maintain ground cover and give a sense of dense foliage.

The Braund Street Native Garden has a fenced dam at the bottom of the block and the block itself has some areas where a wheelchair or stroller could access.