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Starting an Australian Garden in a Drought

Graham Cooke started to create a garden near Melbourne in 2007, after a decade in which this region of Australia had suffered from serious drought. This year, for a change, he's been enjoying the rain…

His garden was planted with drought in mind, avoiding water-hungry plants, incorporating an underground water tank and a drip irrigation system and using thorough mulching of all beds. From Nicole de Vésian's garden La Louve, he borrowed the idea of clipping and shaping the plants and thus set out to find species amenable to this treatment that were suitable to his conditions.

The most successful were forms of the native Australian Westringia, including W. 'Wynyabbie Gem', W. 'Jervis Gem' and the variegated W. 'Smokie'. Other plants used were hebes, box and the prostrate Ceanothus 'Yankee Point'.

Trachelospermum jasminoides has done well on a boundary fence, while Teucrium fruticans and Salvia 'Berggarten' struggled with the drought but have responded well to the recent rainfall.

Hebe ‘Lemon and Lime’, Westringia ‘Jervis Gem’,
Choisya and underperforming box.

Ficus pumila covering the retaining wall.

Central path from the house.

Bed along central path.

Retaining wall made of sleepers.

Tank formwork in place.
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