We live in Australia, where the climate and conditions can be tough on plants. My golden rule when designing a garden is to recognise the local conditions and choose plants to match.
If you’re after minimal effort with maximum impact, then making the most of hardy plants is always a good idea.
What do you need to consider when selecting tough landscaping plants that will work in your garden? I think there are a few important factors, including the climate zone, rainfall, soil type and how exposed your site is to sun and wind.
It’s also important to decide what you’re trying to achieve with your plantings. For example, do you want to create a shaded area, a sense of privacy with screening, a garden with minimal water demands, or splashes of colour in a garden bed?
Whatever your garden goals, there are many hardy plants to suit your needs.
Let’s look at three of my favourite landscape plants that will flourish in our harsh environment.
Hebes are evergreen shrubs predominantly native to New Zealand. There are a vast number of cultivars and hybrids available, ranging from groundcovers to small bushes and large shrubs. So, whether you live in coastal or alpine Australia, there is a variety for your conditions.
I’m a fan of the attractive foliage and abundant flowers, which will invite pollinators into your garden.
Choose a sunny position for plantings. Hebes will tolerate a range of soil types, provided the soil drains well. Water-wise, they are undemanding plants that only require a good soak when summer temperatures soar. Several of the species perform well in coastal situations. Look out for Hebe ‘Bouquet of Flowers’ with impressive pink flower spikes and Hebe ‘Blue Gem’ with blue flower spikes.
My tip is to plant hebes in groups to achieve a low-maintenance garden bed or hedge along the driveway. Prune lightly after flowering in spring to create a privacy screen.
Another great plant to be growing in your garden is coprosma. It’s glossy, vigorous and the foliage provides a full colour palette, from yellow to burgundy, depending on the variety. All this with minimal care required!
Coprosma is seriously hardy, so much so that some of the sub-species are considered environmental weeds in parts of Australia. Ask at your local nursery to find a variety that’s approved for your region.
The key feature of these plants is their drought tolerance once established. They prefer well-drained soil in full sun to part shade. Coprosmas are tough enough to take wind and salt in their stride, so coastal conditions are fine.
My tip is to use coprosma in pots or mass plantings to create dense hedges that will reach up to one metre. Prune lightly each year to promote bushiness, and fertilise before spring with a handful of slow-release fertiliser.
Finally, one of my favourite hardy landscape plants is a compact evergreen shrub, the Metrosideros ‘Tahiti’. It features deep green foliage and red flowers that arrive in late winter and last through spring.
Once again, this is an incredibly hardy plant – it will thrive in partial shade to full sun and requires minimal watering. The flowers are perfumed and will attract birds to your garden as well as providing colour.
Use it as a feature plant in a pot or as a poolside border. Keep in mind that it will grow to around one metre in height.
My tip is to prune the plant and apply some slow-release fertiliser in late winter.
Why not ask after these three plants when you next visit your local nursery?