Peachy Green Brickworks Article Power plants: five natives that will thrive in suburban gardens
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Power plants: five natives that will thrive in suburban gardens

We asked a leading landscape designer to recommend natives that are both visually impressive and easy to care for.
POSTED
23.01.2021

According to Fran Hale, founder of Melbourne-based landscape design business Peachy Green, Australian natives have never been more popular with her clients. Hale, whose work has featured in publications such as Inside Out and The Design Files, says homeowners are increasingly interested in gardens that have an authentic connection to the local environment and are relatively low-maintenance. She admits she struggled to nominate only five native plants for this story, explaining: “There are just so many to choose from.” 

She reckons the following five recommendations work particularly well together, creating a pleasing “plant palette”.

Hakea francisiana (emu tree)

This medium-sized shrub is a handsome combination of blue-green foliage and long pink flowers. Hale says it can be used as a feature in any type of native garden, and is also useful as a source of cut flowers. “It responds well to a light trim after flowering to keep a good shape and a dense habit,” she notes. Emu Tree is also available as a grafted plant, which Hale says will perform better in the heavy soils of the eastern states.

Eucalyptus pulverulenta ‘Baby Blue’ (silver-leafed mountain gum or silver dollar)

Available as a small evergreen tree or a sprawling shrub with an open, spreading habit, Eucalyptus pulverulenta is adorned with blue-grey rounded leaves. “It’s great feature foliage in the garden and terrific as a cut flower,” says Hale. “It also responds well to pruning so it can be kept to a good shape in a small garden.” Endemic to southern New South Wales, the silver-leafed mountain gum grows well in a variety of climates – it has even become popular in California.

Calothamnus quadrifidus (one sided bottle brush)

One major benefit of native plants is their hardiness, and Calothamnus quadrifidus is particularly resilient, or ‘tough’ in Hale’s words. “It makes a great hedge or general garden shrub,” she notes. Its beautiful red flowers are very popular with native birds, too. “This plant likes a light trim to keep it flowering well and in a compact shape.”

Pennisetum alopecuroides ‘Nafray’ (swamp foxtail grass)

“Nafray is a beautiful mid-sized grass with green foliage and masses of foxtail-like flowers that bloom from late summer to autumn,” says Hale. “It likes a damp spot, but also tolerates coastal conditions and salty winds.” The grass occurs naturally all along the eastern seaboard and is easy to maintain – in fact, too many nutrients can stunt its development.

Brachyscome multifida (cut-leafed daisy)

Asked to choose an all-time favourite native, Hale nominates this lesser-known plant. “It’s the perfect little Australian daisy for a soft native cottage look,” she says. The cut-leafed daisy provides compact mounding groundcover and is ideal for edges, borders and under trees. Best of all: “The sweet purple daisy flowers with a golden centre are produced all year round, with flushes in spring and summer.”

According to Fran Hale, founder of Melbourne-based landscape design business Peachy Green, Australian natives have never been more popular with her clients. Hale, whose work has featured in publications such as Inside Out and The Design Files, says homeowners are increasingly interested in gardens that have an authentic connection to the local environment and are relatively low-maintenance. She admits she struggled to nominate only five native plants for this story, explaining: “There are just so many to choose from.” 

She reckons the following five recommendations work particularly well together, creating a pleasing “plant palette”.

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Hakea francisiana (emu tree)

This medium-sized shrub is a handsome combination of blue-green foliage and long pink flowers. Hale says it can be used as a feature in any type of native garden, and is also useful as a source of cut flowers. “It responds well to a light trim after flowering to keep a good shape and a dense habit,” she notes. Emu Tree is also available as a grafted plant, which Hale says will perform better in the heavy soils of the eastern states.

Eucalyptus pulverulenta ‘Baby Blue’ (silver-leafed mountain gum or silver dollar)

Available as a small evergreen tree or a sprawling shrub with an open, spreading habit, Eucalyptus pulverulenta is adorned with blue-grey rounded leaves. “It’s great feature foliage in the garden and terrific as a cut flower,” says Hale. “It also responds well to pruning so it can be kept to a good shape in a small garden.” Endemic to southern New South Wales, the silver-leafed mountain gum grows well in a variety of climates – it has even become popular in California.

Calothamnus quadrifidus (one sided bottle brush)

One major benefit of native plants is their hardiness, and Calothamnus quadrifidus is particularly resilient, or ‘tough’ in Hale’s words. “It makes a great hedge or general garden shrub,” she notes. Its beautiful red flowers are very popular with native birds, too. “This plant likes a light trim to keep it flowering well and in a compact shape.”

Pennisetum alopecuroides ‘Nafray’ (swamp foxtail grass)

“Nafray is a beautiful mid-sized grass with green foliage and masses of foxtail-like flowers that bloom from late summer to autumn,” says Hale. “It likes a damp spot, but also tolerates coastal conditions and salty winds.” The grass occurs naturally all along the eastern seaboard and is easy to maintain – in fact, too many nutrients can stunt its development.

Brachyscome multifida (cut-leafed daisy)

Asked to choose an all-time favourite native, Hale nominates this lesser-known plant. “It’s the perfect little Australian daisy for a soft native cottage look,” she says. The cut-leafed daisy provides compact mounding groundcover and is ideal for edges, borders and under trees. Best of all: “The sweet purple daisy flowers with a golden centre are produced all year round, with flushes in spring and summer.”

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