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Tuesday, May 18, 2021

The perfect mix of exotics and natives

Tinus, a professional horticulturist and garden designer, and his partner Levi, renovated their property in Evatt two years ago. Only a few original plants remain on the 738sqm block, including a variegated Pittosporum, two sasanqua Camellias and a striking forest pansy.

In the back yard, the curved garden beds are raised to reduce the slope and create depth and interest. They have been filled with soil from excavations carried out elsewhere in the yard, as well as with quality imported topsoil. A mulch of forest litter, used to increase fertility, has been topped with a coarse bark layer to prevent compaction and reduce maintenance.

The beds have been edged with COR-TEN steel, a durable and modern product which oxidises as it ages, turning a deep rusty red. The sweeping paths in both the back and front yards have a compacted base layer of pea-sized pebbles and a top layer of larger pebbles, for aesthetics.

There is a harmonious collection of both native and exotic plants. In the back yard, Tinus has created a foliage palette of purples, reds, limes, and blues (to connect the garden to the grey of the house).

Flowers appear year-round and cover a range of shapes and sizes. Tinus has a beautiful collection of five Magnolia species, 18 varieties of Camellia, and eight varieties of Maple.

Levi collects succulents, cacti and bonsais, the latter of which are seamlessly displayed in a Zen garden at the side of the house.

A boundary planting of Magnolia grandiflora ‘Exmouth’ has been used for privacy and to create depth in the garden. Once suitably established, Tinus will maintain the hedge using pleaching technique.

Two raised tank planters are located at the back of the house for growing seasonal vegetables – one is rejuvenated with compost and manure from the chook house while the other is in use.

Tinus has created a relaxed modern style in the front yard; a semi-formal look which is considerably lower maintenance than more structured formal gardens. The main bed has been raised and is edged with durable aluminium strips. A gabion wall effectively separates the garden from the driveway.

A colour combination of reds, silvers and limes (to connect both the front and back yards) has been used. Tinus will hedge the Camellia and Grevillea‘Lady O’ plantings once they are more established to give structure.

Irrigation is largely carried out using drippers and with some hand watering. Tinus says he finds drippers especially useful for cool climate native plants as it prevents the creation of humidity.

All prunings, lawn clippings and any other organic garden and kitchen waste are composted and re-used in the garden – or devoured by the chickens.

Any pest outbreaks are controlled using natural and cultural methods. For instance, scale and aphids are readily eaten by resident birdlife and beneficial insects such as lady beetles. Tinus also carries out regular snail patrol in the evenings when they are active.

A foliage theme of reds, silvers and lime green has been utilised in the front yard to both complement and contrast the colours of the home.

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