Elements within Grow Up include:
When space is limited, consider the often-underutilised land out the front of your home – the verge. Nature strips or verges can be vital to help mitigate the urban heat island effect, create habitat and support food security and local food systems, not to mention they can look great and improve the aesthetic appeal and property value of the area. And just like community gardens, verge plantings can help develop strong, healthy, connected local communities.
Native verge – adding native plants to your verge is a great way to help create biodiversity and habitat, and they will also make your road frontage look great. You can use local indigenous plants (those which originally grew in your area) or other climate compatible Australian natives. These plants are suited to your environment and once established, they will be able to grow without supplementary water.
Always check with your local council about their verge policy and how you can be added to the ‘Do not mow and do not spray’ register.
Butterfly and Bee Garden
Nothing brings beauty, cheer and delight to a garden quicker than butterflies and bees flitting about, and they can be encouraged to be regular guests in any garden if you design it, or at least part of it, for them. Attracting butterflies into a garden involves planting a diverse range of plants to feed the butterflies and the caterpillars, and often these two life stages require different plants. The adult butterflies need nectar-rich flowering plants, and many caterpillars also need specific food plants. Find out more at https://butterflyconservationsa.net.au/
To create a bee friendly garden plant flowers that bees love, and make sure you have something in flower for them all year round. As well as honeybees, we want to attract native bees to your garden, as there are around 500 species of native bees here in SA. While these bees are solitary and don’t live in hives, nor do they produce honey which we can harvest, they are great pollinators and very important for biodiversity. One common native bee in Adelaide is the blue banded bee, which is a buzz pollinator, giving you bigger, tastier tomatoes. Build a native bee hotel for them – find out more at https://www.abc.net.au/gardening/factsheets/bee-grade-hotels/13262244 https://www.abc.net.au/gardening/factsheets/bee-bnb/11943376
Sometimes the height of a tree is not the problem, it’s the width, so why not choose a narrow, columnar tree. These upright trees are great for adding height in narrow spaces, such as to soften a two-storey wall in a courtyard, add some height along a narrow driveway or make a vertical statement. Varieties include upright pears (like Pyrus calleryana ‘Capital’), upright Prunus or plums (Prunus cerasifera ‘Oakville Crimson Spire’) and upright apples and crab apples (Malus cultivars)
When ground space is limited, grow up, literally, with climbing plants. They can be grown up mesh, lattice, wires or other structures, and can be used to cool down hot reflective surfaces like fences and walls. Good plant choices will help you select the right climber that will be well behaved and do what you need it to do. Chinese star jasmine (Trachelospermum jasminoides) is a very popular climber for courtyards where it can grow in full sun or shade, have foliage cover to the round, and be kept under control.
Vine Covered Pergola
Using deciduous climbers over pergolas gives you shade in summer when you want to stay cool, and yet when the leaves drop in winter you get the benefit of the sun’s warmth. Using plants for passive heating and cooling is part of sustainable house and garden design. It is significantly cooler under a vine covered pergola than it is under a shade structure with a solid roof, such as a veranda or polycarb covered pergola, due to the plants’ transpiration. Adding a misting system will drop the temperature significantly and mean that you can even enjoy this area on the hottest days. Misting systems are remarkably water efficient as reducing your shower by just one minute provides the same amount of water needed to run your system for two hours.
Nothing beats the cool feeling you get under a shade tree, and when space is limited, look to use a deciduous tree so that you can enjoy the winter sunshine. Evergreen shade trees can make small courtyard areas dark and gloomy over winter.
There are a number of commercial green wall systems, but in our hot, harsh, summer-dry climate, many do not work successfully without very regular watering and maintenance. Their success is linked to matching the right plants to the conditions, the soil capacity of the system and the ability to water it effectively. Their cost can be prohibitive, so using climbing plants may be a more cost-effective option.
Vegies can be grown in green wall systems as shown in this show garden, however you can also use climbing vegies growing over mesh to cool down walls or create shade. Check out my favourite vertical vegies at https://sophiespatch.com.au/2019/04/06/favourite-vertical-vegies/
Raised Vegie Beds
Growing at least part of your own fruits and vegies is possible whatever the space of your garden. When ground space may be limited, vegies can be grown in raised beds or pots.
Native Food Plants
Bush foods have become popular on the menus of restaurants across Australia but why not grow your own. Look for the ‘Native Food Plants’ (TBC) range available from leading nurseries and garden centres as they have been selected by a former commercial grower for their superior flavour.
Always check with the gardening staff at your local nursery or garden centre about the suitability of plants you choose for your garden.
Grow Up Concept Sketch
Here is George Cooper’s artists impression of ‘Grow Up’ originally intended for the Royal Adelaide Show in 2021. George has been doing these concept sketches for my gardens since 2014 and has also worked on my other projects like the ‘Tour Down Under’ garden installation, and of course the ever-changing map of Sophie’s Patch given to all visitors on their arrival.
Past Show Gardens
Today, I am just as passionate about the topics which I demonstrated in past show gardens, so when you have time, grab yourself a cuppa and check the photos and explanation about them here:
2018 Buzz – the bee lover’s garden (https://sophiespatch.com.au/category/features-events/featuregardens/2018-royal-adelaide-show/ )
and 2017 Habitat (https://sophiespatch.com.au/2017/09/02/habitat-royal-adelaide-show-images/ ).