Gardening Magazine

We Have a Plan!

By Gardenamateur

Well, it's not an especially cunning plan (and it certainly doesn't involve turnips either), but Pammy and I have finally come up with a plan for remodelling our little backyard garden. Pictured below is how it's going to be laid out. 

Now, first of all I owe Pam and apology for pinching and using her old watercolour plan of our garden, which she did several years ago. I've fiddled with it and changed it a lot in Photoshop to suit the revamp, so all the bits which look a bit rough are undoubtedly all mine (especially the ugly big numbers).

We have a plan!

Just follow the numbers below
for your indispensible guide to
what we have in mind.

Just to orient yourself, the bottom of the plan is the back of the house, and the outlook from there is to north-north east, so it's nice and sunny garden most of the time. Morning sun comes up on the right, goes down on the left and the sun just beams on in at midday.

1. That's an existing olive tree, and it stays.

2. That's an existing murraya hedge which hides the compost bins and barbecue, and it stays too.
3. A few things stay here, such as the small frangipani tree and a clump of scadoxus. All other plants are going, replaced by several more clivias, winter flowerers with a variety of flower colours hopefully.
4. The large, unruly clump of cardamom and ginger goes, replaced by a tidier clump of tiger grass, a bamboo-like lush green screen that will hide the metal Colorbond fence but won't get out of control.
5. My herb garden is shrinking down to a series of large pots not only here, but elsewhere. In the ground they were too happy and too big! I am hoping they will be happy and potted, but smaller (still growing sage, parsley, rosemary, thyme, coriander, chives, mints, chervil).
6. The espaliered lime tree stays (of course!).
7. My vegie beds are smaller, but in the sunniest part of the garden. A constantly changing feast as the seasons change in these three little beds.
8. The Grevillea 'Peaches and Cream' stays, but will be subject to even more pruning discipline to keep its spreading tendencies under control, and to allow lots of sun into the next-door vegie bed.
9. An existing large, clipped murraya next to the outdoor entertaining area stays.
10. The existing second olive tree stays, too.
11. A new 'purple' flower bed with a centrepiece of a Plectranthus 'Mona Lavender' will be surrounded by purple annuals, replaced each season. I'll probably start off with gomphrenas.
12. Another new purple and yellow bed with a centrepiece of a Tibouchina 'Jules' (1m high and wide purple-flowered shrub) plus a Tibouchina 'Groovy Baby' (60cm) and some Italian lavender, plus yellow annuals.
13. A major change here: a row of Gardenia magnifica 'Golden Magic' as an informal (ie, unclipped) hedge naturally about 1.5m high. It has lots and lots of white flowers which quickly age to gold and stay on the bush. As they can be a bit bare-legged, I'm planting low-growing Gardenia radicans (white flowers) at the base of each 'Golden Magic' to fill in the lower level. (A big 'thank you' to our magazine's resident gardening expert Elizabeth Swane for that great idea, plus several other really good suggestions, like the Tiger grass.)
14. Another major change: the formerly potted succulents are going into the ground. I'm planning to add a lot of sand to these beds to make it even more free-draining (it's pretty good already but Sydney can get soggy). I have such a big variety of succulents here it should be fun planting them out. After planting I'll be spreading around an off-white 10mm gravel mulch between all the succulents.
15. Another good tip from Elizabeth, this is another small row of low-growing Gardenia radicans. This is a truly rotten spot in the garden. It gets no sun in winter, and blazing hot late afternoon sun all summer long. Tough old G. radicans can handle it, and it provides a lush green backdrop to the succulents when viewed from the house.
16. The existing lemon tree, plus the underplantings of hellebores there, remain.

Elsewhere, close to the entertaining area near the house, all the other existing potted plants, such as the Turkish Brown fig, the Thai lime, the many orchids and bromeliads remain as they are.

There are lots of casualties of this garden revamp, some of them familiar and quite nice plants which I have blogged about many times before. All the in-ground herbs (such as the huge expanse of thyme and sage) have been uprooted (and cuttings taken from them, which have struck well and are growing on happily). The big potted curry tree also goes (it's as sick as can be right now and so I think its innings is over). However, losing it undid what was stalling the redesign. All of sudden a row of flowering gardenias in its place felt like a great idea, and that provided a relatively easy-care backdrop the succulent patch.

I've started pulling plants out already, I'm off to the landscape supplies place on Saturday to bring home lots of bags of sand, pebbles and other soil improvers. No planting this weekend, it's time for digging, cutting back and getting the soil right, but after so many months of midwinter indolence, I think we're back in action. More reports, more frequently, is what to expect!

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