Ideas for home gardening

Published 13/12/11 | by Jim Robinson

This ‘wildflower room’ is the work of members of Greenlink Box Hill, in particular, the late Minette Russell-Young (ex Burnley lecturer, a founding member of IFFA and inspiration/ mentor to many of us ‘indigiphiles’ in greater Melbourne.)

Striking assemblages of indigenous grasses and forbs are located along a public trail (the Bushy Creek Trail in Box Hill), not a domestic garden but Min championed the concept of ‘wildflower rooms’ and ‘borders’ that can be incorporated into any home garden.

Restoration along the trail (about 20 ha in total) includes the usual suite of the local small, medium and large shrubs, a few trees, and the wonderfully ubiquitous Lomandra longifolia, various Flax-lilies and grasses (overplanted to minimize weeding if possible, continual weeding being the quickest way to discourage volunteer effort!) The ‘’wildflower rooms/ borders’’ were generally located strategically in higher profile sections where the paths crossed or near to seating.

Min also experimented with using Goodenia ovata heavily pruned as hedging plants to help keep out any weed seeds (as well as to extend the horticultural life of the Goodenias). Unfortunately, the use of 100mm of mulch/wood chips along the trail (to minimize weeding) has meant that the ‘wildflower rooms/borders’ did not naturally regenerate but needed to be re-planted as perennials died out. Maybe gravel mulch might have been better?

Much of the trail is more horticulture than restoration but, by presenting indigenous plants in a very attractive way, an aim was to promote their use in the average garden. In Hawthorn, where I have lived for 35 years, I reckon that 99% of gardens have no indigenous plants in them so our indigenous plants need all the help they can get to encourage their use! Incidently, the Bushy Creek Trail is always heavily used whenever I have been there.

Min and the Greenlink Box Hill bods also trialled geometric grassland garden beds.

In sessions we do on habitat gardens, the emphasis is on the role of wildflower rooms/borders in home gardens as habitat for a range of invertebrates that underpin the food web. Similarly, wildflower rooms help offset the massive loss of ground layer vegetation (cf. larger trees & shrubs that are bigger than livestock browsing height & more commonly remain on our farmlands) across Victoria so we emphasise that every wildflower room can definitely ‘make a difference’.