An Afternoon in the Garden with Annalise Fosbery: Create a microclimate for a green and lush style garden

Annalise FosberyGeraldton Guardian
Garden trowel in the soil humus.
Camera IconGarden trowel in the soil humus. Credit: malerapaso/Getty Images/iStockphoto

Fashions come and go, but landscapes are slow-growing and can take time and effort to develop and maintain.

I’ve noticed that a trend that seems to endure in landscape design is a verdant lusciousness that is often associated with tropical and temperate landscapes.

Geraldton and the Mid West are located right on the edge of a temperate growing zone and an arid growing zone. As you’ll be aware we have hot and dry summer periods and cool and wet winter periods as per a temperate Mediterranean climate, but our heat is higher, longer and drier than other locations in the same growing zone such as Melbourne or Perth. But we have an average annual higher rainfall than fellow arid locations such as Alice Springs or Kalgoorlie. Which is why the climate zone maps can be difficult to interpret.

So if you are looking to recreate a green and lush style garden you will be looking to create a microclimate that supports the plants you may be visualising.

For instance, use large and hardy plants to create a boundary around the garden that protects other plants inside from our very drying easterly and strong salty southerly.

I’ve also had to adapt my garden design to account for the cold, ferocious winter northerly wind that stripped leaves off my citrus trees. Measuring hardiness is a tricky endeavour and really often comes with experience. I look at what my immediate neighbours are growing to see what has survived in the same soil, wind and sun conditions.

Our other challenge is the availability of suitable plants from nurseries. Many local gardeners may not be aware that there is more than one plant retail location in Geraldton.

I would suggest asking your neighbours if you spot something you like in their garden. Where did they get it from? And how long ago did they plant it? There are also a few local social media groups that share information about local plant sources, too.

So my next few articles I’ll scour our local neighbourhoods and bring you some lists of plants I can see growing well in people’s gardens. We’ll cover cottage-style flower gardens, tropical-style gardens, succulent-style gardens and native-bush-style gardens.

As a gardener you can combine any of these “styles” to create your own space, but my only suggestion is to pair plants with similar water needs together because that is the biggest “cost” to our environment, and overwatering or under-watering is usually the primary cause of brown-thumb deaths.

This afternoon in my garden I’m preparing the soil for my tomato seedlings that I have been growing up. Adding matured-manure and compost to the soil will help support the plants to grow us lots and lots of tomatoes. I have also been removing lots and lots of weed seedlings from the flowerbeds I planted. Giving the garden bed a light watering beforehand makes it much easier to pull out the unwanted weeds without disturbing the roots of the flowers I’d like to keep.

I served a delicious cauliflower salad featuring fresh parsley, sugar snaps and blue borage flowers from our garden. There are many edible flowers that we grow in our gardens. I have borage to attract pollinators to my strawberry plants, and the flowers taste fresh and sweet once you remove the hairy stem and leaves behind the petals.

I have also planted a range of vegie and flower seeds in cleaned, recycled punnets to grow up and establish to avoid the slugs! I have been accidently feeding the slugs a banquet of zucchini seedlings, but they will not get my watermelons.

Annalise Fosbery is a landscape architect who has recently returned to live in her hometown of Geraldton.

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