Fire-resistant landscaping for your most valuable asset - your home!
February 18, 2013
The Meredith Couch - Art with a Purpose
December 11, 2014
Historic rural garden restored to its former glory using sustainable landscape ideas
September 2, 2014
In times past gardens were designed without much regard to how much maintenance they required - labour was cheap and plentiful and 'low-maintenance gardens' were not a consideration.
Times have changed and now that garden maintenance is a chore on our weekend lists, competing with doggy class, gym, kids parties and whatever else!
So how to approach a commission to design a 19th Century style garden for an historic homestead?
The problem is to create a garden style that blends with the heritage context of the property yet doesn't come with the demand for time and resources.
The gracious Glenpanyall homestead with its historically significant trees and heritage registered mansion overlooks Corio Bay from a hilltop in the northern suburbs of Geelong. Once a property of 2000 acres incremental subdivision has much reduced its size, and this project's scope was to facilitate further subdivision in the most historically sensitive part of the property, near the homestead itself.
The brief required redesign of the entry and approach areas, re-establishing the avenue of trees and landscaping the area in sympathy with the 19th century era of the buildings.
While evoking the grand gardens of the gardenesque period, our design included creative solutions to modern-day issues of climate change and high maintenance costs.
I'll share some ideas with you now:
Take time to plan your water supply - in our drying climate its the best insurance of long term success you can get. In this garden a large underground tank collects water harvested from adjacent hard surfacing, storing it for irrigation;
Invest in drip irrigation technology - it is very water efficient as it ensures that the water is delivered wher its needed - to the roots!
Use drought-tolerant, mediterranean-style plants. Many of them are tremendously ornamental. For example
saltbushes (Rhagodia, Atriplex and others) are fabulous value, gleefully covering the soil and excluding weeds with fantastic foliage in shades of silver.
Lavenders, Rock Roses (Cistus), Hebe, Artemisia, Salvia, etc all flower freely and are very easy to grow;
Plant densely enough so that plants 'join together' within 2-3 years and exclude weeds, but avoid over-planting. A way to find this balance is to use fast-growing (but short-lived) plants such as Lavatera, native Daisy-bushes (Ozothamnus) or the indigenous but quite ornamental Kangaroo Apple. These will give you quick effect then leave space for the permanent plants;
Use a drought-tolerant warm-season grass such as Santa Ana couch grass. Unlike the Common Couch you may be familiar with it does not spread quickly and become a problem. In fact so long as you mow it heavily to remove thatch in Spring it is extremely low-maintenance as it only grows a few centimetres high;
These are ideas that you can use in any context, not just to create a beautiful garden full of classic flowering plants such as this example.
There is no such thing as a 'no maintenance garden' but use these techniques and you'll have more time for the kids parties, soccer, and maybe even some time to relax!