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Plantings at the Volcano Garden at the Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne

Choosing Plants That Won’t Die

– Posted in: Sustainable Gardening

Water wise gardening 1

The best way of having a waterwise garden is to have plants that don’t have much need for water in the first place. This can be irritating advice if you have a much loved garden that is shrivelling before your eyes through summer drought. If you are planning a new garden or rethinking your old one, it should be one of your first considerations.

Having plants that suit the climate conditions of your site gives you a much better chance of ending up with a healthy garden without the extra time and resources. That is a more sustainable garden.

Waterwise plantings don’t have to be a sparse collection of cacti. You can still have a leafy, shady garden with plants that are adapted to low water climates.

As a general rule adaptations for low water conditions can include:

– leaves that are tough and leathery (like eucalypts)

– leaves that are fine or narrow (like most melaleucas)

– leaves that are grey or silvery (like lavenders)– Succulence (like cactus or pigface)

These are the more easy to pick traits. It can also help if you know a bit about the origin of the plants. Using plants that are indigenous to your local area can be a good guide. However not all indigenous plants are drought tolerant. Native violets, for example, prefer shady moist situations. Choosing plants from similar climate regions can also work well. Areas with Mediterranean climates match Melbourne reasonably well. Cool winters and hot drying summers occur in South Africa, California, Southern Europe and parts of the Middle East. A word of caution with these plants is that they can do so well they can escape and become environmental weeds. Nature isn’t always simple.

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