Dry lands: Australian garden styles you'll love to steal

A metal arch separates a seating area from the open space, giving a sense of enclosure.
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A metal arch separates a seating area from the open space, giving a sense of enclosure.

Summer is here - and it looks like it's going to be a warm one. So it makes sense to plant with these conditions in mind.

Weather forecasters are predicting a weak La Nina, which means warm, wet conditions in the north and hot, dry weather on the east coast of both islands.

If you're expecting drought, take a leaf out of the book of our neighbours across the Tasman and plant accordingly.

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SUCCULENT SEASCAPE

Keeping a garden at a bach can pose a challenge – you need low-maintenance plants able to cope in coastal conditions.

In the garden below, Phil Withers combined clusters of succulents to create a colourful effect inspired by coral reefs. Replicate the look by grouping clusters of Echeveria elegans with Sedum 'Aurora Pink'.

Add tall accents with Aloe bainesii, or Aloe plicatilis, which has winter flowers beloved by tui.

Structures made from natural materials work well with easy-care arid planting.

A cluster of succulents is designed to resemble the colours of a coral reef.
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A cluster of succulents is designed to resemble the colours of a coral reef.

SIMPLE LINES 

An elegant pavilion for outdoor entertaining can be as simple as a mono-pitch iron roof fastened to blackened beams with timber slats in between.

To adjust sunlight levels, install inexpensive bamboo frames or matchstick blinds.

This pavilion juts out over a retaining wall with a pond beneath it, but you don't need to install a pond to have a water feature in your garden –  collect rainwater in a sunken trough that overflows onto your plants.

For a "no-mow" option, plant swathes of blue New Zealand tussock and small-leafed Hebe diosmifolia with gentle-on-the-feet pea gravel. 

Create an elegant pavilion with a mono-pitch iron roof fastened to blackened beams with timber slats in between.
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Create an elegant pavilion with a mono-pitch iron roof fastened to blackened beams with timber slats in between.

OPEN-AIR ARBOUR 

A gardener's worst nightmare or work of art? Even if this bronze snail doesn't suit, incorporating other oversized objects can create a focal point in a small space. Large-leaved plants help balance scale.

Within the same garden, a metal arch delicately separates a seating area from the open space, giving a tangible sense of enclosure with a sculptural twist.

This is a great idea if you want an arbour but don't have a big budget. Create shade by growing a soft-wooded climber up it, such as native Clematis paniculata or a passionfruit vine.

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A ramble of plants of differing size, texture and colour pick up the relaxed mood and a lush hedge creates privacy. Try maidenhair fern-like houpara (Pseudopanax adiantifolious).

COOL AND COHESIVE

Oversized objects such as this bronze snail can create a focal point in a small space.
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Oversized objects such as this bronze snail can create a focal point in a small space.

White is striking in a garden as it has a cooling effect and pops out against a green backdrop.

Recreate this cool space with an oversized white shade sail tensioned between metal poles. A white, freestanding block wall provides an excellent windbreak and a vertical surface for outdoor art or attachable herb pockets.

Counter any glare with brown gravel, which can also double as a safe surface for a brazier or a movable fire pit.

Paint cheap plastic furniture yellow or teal for a cheerful spike of colour. Plant a  feature tree such as this Magnolia 'Star Wars' to provide a burst of colour in spring.

A white, freestanding block wall provides an excellent windbreak and a vertical surface for outdoor art.
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A white, freestanding block wall provides an excellent windbreak and a vertical surface for outdoor art.

TALL AND TEXTURAL

Rock stars like this wall are a real stand-out feature in a small garden. Repeating the rock gabions from the outer wall with these clever columns (pictured below) is a bold, eye-catching option.

Consider using divaricating or upright plants such as native Muehlenbeckia astonii or oioi  (Apodasmia similis) to soften rocky edges.

Team gabions with tropical and subtropical textures.
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Team gabions with tropical and subtropical textures.

The flowering kangaroo paw (Anigozanthos) complements the ochre tones of rock and metal. It favours the dry, as does our own Poor Knights lily (Xeronema callistemon), which would be perfectly at home perched atop a column or on a rocky pile at its feet.

Swathes of Libertia ixioides 'Taupo Sunset' would complete the palette. 

CIRCULAR SANCTUARY 

Rock gabions from an outer wall are repeated in these clever columns.
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Rock gabions from an outer wall are repeated in these clever columns.

A touch of theatre can never go astray in garden realms, especially when creating a space to hang out with friends. Metal edges create an instant ring. Just add gravel and the stage is set.

As an easy-care alternative to lawn, the boundaries are planted with a tumble of bee-attracting flowers and aromatic herbs.

A combination of Lavandula 'Major', the perennial Limonium perezii (sea lavender) and the upright Rosmarinus 'Tuscan Blue' would make a homely posse for this roundabout.

This garden, with its friendly, uncomplicated vibe and lack of dead ends was actually designed as a therapeutic garden for dementia sufferers.

Metal edges create an instant ring - just add gravel and the stage is set.
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Metal edges create an instant ring - just add gravel and the stage is set.

STACKED SIMPLICITY  

Transforming the ordinary into the extraordinary was the inspiration for this installation.

A simple wood stack becomes a slick sculpture with its sushi-like wrapper of stainless steel. The challenge is to keep the wood stocked up.

A wood stack becomes a slick sculpture with its sushi-like wrapper of stainless steel.
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A wood stack becomes a slick sculpture with its sushi-like wrapper of stainless steel.

Recycled seating made from an old hardwood beam and a circular fire bowl conjure up companionship.

Once the flames die down, a circular grate would transform this fire into a cooking surface.

For perfect prairie partners juxtapose a long-life grass, such as Carex virgata, or the gossamer grass Anemanthele lessoniana with echinacea or Penstemon 'Garnet' spires.

Recycled seating made from an old hardwood beam and a circular fire bowl create a cosy space.
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Recycled seating made from an old hardwood beam and a circular fire bowl create a cosy space.

 - NZ Gardener

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