Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Try growing: the plants that grow themselves....

We put masses of thought, research, and planning into the design of our garden. We learned about many different local plants, what they looked like and what their preferences were, and we spent ages matching all that information up with our ideals of the garden 'look and feel' that we wanted. 

But ultimately quite a few of the plants we originally chose have died, mostly because they are not suited to this particular site.  We are continually learning lessons about what works where, and why. Some plants have turned their toes up after three or four years, when they finally decide they don't like the soil, the aspect or the water regime....

One really interesting lesson has been taught by the plants that simply pop up on the site: the plants that grow themselves. Many are indigenous to this area and, quite naturally, thrive here. And of those, a large proportion are thoroughly welcome here, as they're attractive, provide good habitat and don't dominate other species. 
A mix of ground covers, including native pennywort
(Hydrocotyle laxiflora), kidney weed (Dichondra
) and the beautiful necklace fern 
(Asplenium flabellifolium), which is related to the
better-known birds nest fern (Asplenium australasicum).
This is prickly beard-heath (Leucopogon juniperinus).
I've tried growing it from seed and it's near impossible.
But now and then seedlings just germinate naturally
in the garden, and they thrive among the other plants. 
A wide range of climbers find their way into the garden.
Some are just too large for our young shrubs and trees to handle,
but this Desmodium rhytidophyllum (no common name!) is
small and not aggressive, so won't swamp other plants. 
Here are a couple of the pretty pink flowers of the Desmodium.
You can see it's in the pea family from their shape.
The white flower in the centre here is from a young whiteroot
(Pratia purpurascens). Other pratia species are commonly sold as
groundcovers, but we have our own local species that grows very happily here.
Viola hederacea, a native violet, is sold
in many plant shops but will also pop up in
some Illawarra gardens by itself. Why buy
when you can just wait and see what springs up
Even delicate looking ferns, like the necklace fern shown above, can establish themselves in suburban gardens, if there are other populations nearby. 

Of course, quite a few of the plants that pop up of their own accord are weedy introduced species that will completely take over if you don't watch out. But it's surprising how many local species will re-establish in your garden if you give them the space to do so. 

What's growing itself in your garden?


  1. I too put tremendous effort into choosing plants for a new garden and found that some thrived and others turned their toes up pretty quickly or after a while. One thing I didn't account for was the open (and windy) aspect.

  2. There is always so much to learn with a new garden, isn't there? Soils and aspect can vary so much, even on properties quite close together. Wind can really dry out plants, even in cold weather. I hope your surviving plants are all doing well....