To understand how to create a successful native garden in Perth requires passion, commitment and patience.
I’m lucky, I have the benefit of 3 generations of knowledge and experience around West Australian plants to draw on in Boxed Green. So that’s what I’m sharing, through our work, our workshops, blogs and conversations.
I will help you create a thriving, beautiful, interesting native verge or garden that you’ll love as much as the local birds will.
When I meet with clients or attendees at our workshops, their response is often “I’ve tried natives and they don’t work as well as I expected in my garden.”
If this is true for you, know that it’s not your fault!
If you’ve been feeling stressed or frustrated in not knowing which plants to buy or how to prepare the garden, you’re absolutely not alone.
The simple truth is, to have a successful native garden or verge requires a well researched, simple to use, proven system, and a reasonable understanding of the garden you’re working with. And that’s where it gets interesting.
“Whenever you read that you need a product to improve your sand, bring more ‘healthy soil in’, add fertilizer or spend money on stuff to ‘improve your native garden’ or ‘prepare your garden bed’…stop reading and go to the next article…Because they’re not talking about a West Australian plant garden.” –Graeme Mitchell, Boxed Green.
Garden Bed Preparation
Our Perth sand, our West Australian plants, our climate, are all perfect for bringing life to your verge and garden. And isn’t that a relief?
I won’t go into a long story about how this has been tested and proven, that’s a whole new blog for another day, but if you can accept this for a moment, think about what’s next……
What happens when we add clay, wetting agents, fertilizers, ‘good soils’, compost, mulch etc etc. to the garden? Well, it actually creates a problem for the health of our WA native plants and their incredibly complex, and symbiotic relationships with the sand.
Our West Australian plants’ roots know what to exude into the sand in order to activate the bacteria and fungi they require to thrive. The simplest way I can put it into words is that if you plant the best West Australian plants into our sand, give them sufficient water and protection in the early days, they will produce a beautiful outcome.
They don’t need anything more than this.
If you add ‘stuff’, they simply get confused. Then, if they survive all this ‘stuff’, most West Australian plants will grow too quickly and won’t get through the first seasonal cycle because their roots aren’t established properly.
How do I know this to be true?
The business of Boxed Green draws on 3 generations of working with West Australian plants in all sorts of ways. Our founders, myself included, have advised local governments, worked as key advisors to large scale land developers, consulted to the nursery industry, supported wildflower and related community groups, and worked directly with hundreds of home gardeners.
Since the 1970’s we have been collectively responsible for the installation of more than 1 million local West Australian natives in various gardens, landscapes and public open spaces. All of them in Perth sands or the South West of Western Australia.
My partner, Graeme, gives the best advice I can think of if you’re researching native verges or gardens…
Whenever you read that you need a product to improve your sand, bring more ‘healthy soil in’, add fertilizer or spend money on stuff to ‘improve your native garden’ or ‘prepare your garden bed’…stop reading and go to the next article.
Because they’re not talking about a West Australian native plant garden or the relationship between our Perth sands and West Australian plants.
If you’re planning a verge or garden with native plants, researching plant names and creating botanical lists is frustrating, and often a total waste of time. Even if the information you sought was available in a useful format for gardeners:
- You’re sifting through plant names to determine exotics vs natives, or natives from the East coast vs natives from West Australia without knowing if they are grown or available from a professional nursery.
- Images or articles on the internet describing plant behaviour, size and shape mostly refer to observations in bush settings. This information usually comes from botanical surveys for scientific purpose which could be for plants of 50 years old or more.
- How do you locate or source the West Australian plants that look beautiful for gardens, match the season you’re in and actually suit your own garden?
And that’s a sample of the challenge of researching how to create a native verge or garden. No wonder most people tell us they’re overwhelmed.
That’s why our advice always starts in Your garden. We work with plants that suit your garden specifically, won’t turn your verge into a jungle, and look beautiful!
So let me walk through your garden with you, and share with me what you want to see.
Talk about the shape, size and colour you want and how you want your garden to look. I can then create a ‘road map’ with you on how to get there, and the best selection of plants to choose from.
If you don’t change your sand, and accept you can have a beautiful native plant garden without spending a fortune on ‘stuff’, we’ll help you choose the plants and bring your ideas (and garden) to life.
Gardening is an art; we will do whatever we can to help you re-discover it and share the many secrets we know about native gardening with West Australian plants.
And if a WA native plant garden is not for you, then please tag someone in the comments below who you think could be interested, or share this article with them.
Boxed Green is a local plant advisory service in Perth, Western Australia. We support home gardeners with plant selection, delivery and placement for all situations, advice on how to transition home gardens to local native plants and run workshops to share the knowledge and experience of 3 generations of connection to WA plants.