Garden where you live
You might think this is a rather odd title? After all, don’t we all garden where we live? Well in one sense we do, yet in another, many of us try to garden in another place. One of the quickest ways to cause frustration in the garden, or to waste money on plants that die, is to try and grow plants which aren’t suited to the conditions in our individual gardens.
For example if we try and grow tropical plants such as palms on a hot windy hillside overlooking Adelaide, they will invariably burn and look sad. Now we can choose palms that originate from a Mediterranean and they will thrive as they are perfected suited to our Mediterranean climate. If you are desperate to grow lush tropical plants, create a sheltered micro climate and then grow these plants within it.
Similarly if we try and grow cool climate plants which have high shelter and water requirements in an exposed full sun position they will either die or at best burn and look dreadful. Azaleas are a great example of such a plant. They grow beautifully in many gardens of the Adelaide Hills, where they thrive under cool shady deciduous trees in organic matter rich soils, protected from hot north winds. They grow brilliantly in Japan where it rains all summer and yet we try to grow them on the Adelaide Plains with our dry parching heat and lack of humidity. If you are really keen to grow them on the Plains, they need a sheltered shade house and very frequent watering over the warmer months to thrive. There is also the soil pH to contend with as azaleas are acid soil loving plants and most of Adelaide has soils on the alkaline side. This can be adjusted by growing them in a pot and feeding them with special acid loving plants foods.
Another example is growing frost tender plants up in frosty areas like the Adelaide Hills. I absolutely love gardenias, Murrayas (orange jessamine) and Stephanotis, yet I know I can’t grow them in my frosty patch in Mt Barker. So I must grow what does well for me, and adore the delicious scents of these delightful subtropical plants in gardens on the Plains.
To experienced gardeners, trying to grow an occasional odd plant which is not suited to our environment can be a fun challenge, however when you are just starting a garden, it is more encouraging (and better for the bank balance) to have more wins than losses.
Your local nursery or garden centre will carry a range of plants that suit your local climate, however they also may have a number that don’t. That is because they often attract customers from all over Adelaide, not just in your local area. The simple solution if you are not sure whether a plant is suited to your garden or not, is to do some research. Use local resources, ask someone in your local nursery or garden centre, ask a keen gardener, or look for what is growing in your area.
Wherever you live, create a gorgeous garden with plants that thrive, and you will all value to your property and give yourself a lifelong hobby that enriches your health and wellbeing.