going native

We went to the Friends of Kings Park May Plant Sale by car, not on our bicycles as we planned. The advantage was that we saw the vehicle traffic on the road around Mitchell Park, and pedestrian and paw traffic on the cycle path through Mitchell Park enough to know that it was good luck that we needed to take the car instead.

The Plant Sale was set up under some shady trees on the lawn off Fraser Avenue, Kings Park.

There was standing room only within the boundaries of the plant sale, both queuing up to purchase plants, and surrounding each of the clearly marked shelves of plants.

The plant shelves were marked with large signs depicting the types of plants, for example, climbers, bird attracting, shrubs, and so on. Each of the plants included a label that displayed the species name, description, and planting guide. I was able to quickly pick up the two plants that I came for from the Climbers stand.

Kennedia nigricans (Black Kennedia) Vigorous climber to 4 m. Good for growing on a fence or a screen. Dark green glossy leaves. Black and lime-yellow flowers in clusters from July-Nov. Sandy or loamy soils in part to full sun. The label also includes a “I am a Waterwise plant” sticker.

Chorizema aciculare Attractive light twining plant. Climbs 1-2m high x 1-2 m wide. Oval to linear shaped leaves. Orange, yellow and pink flowers from Sept-Dec. Allow to climb over other plants or on a trellis for support. Well-drained soils in dappled shade to part sun.

I stuck to just purchasing the plants I came for, but it was tempting to buy others. Especially when I found out they had credit card facilities available. I saw people walking around with the list printed from the web site, and overheard some people saying that they were purchasing plants for family members and friends that had provided them with a list of plants that they wanted.

We were there at 0845. The Plant Sale was advertised at opening at 0830, so I expect a lot of the people that were already queuing to make their purchases must have queued up for the gates to be opened.

This year’s visit to the Friends of Kings Park Plant Sale was more of a reconnaissance, as well as purchasing two climbers that I needed for a side fence.

I have plans for a cottage garden, but with the rainfall decreasing and the current water restrictions I have decided to design a cottage garden using native plants.

I’m planning on turning the top front part of the garden into a cottage garden of native plants. This area has not yet been prepared, and is currently an established garden of dwarf citrus trees under-planted with whatever self-propagates. This year it has been tansy, woolly mullein, garlic chives, and shasta daisies.

I started with consulting Cottage Gardening in Australia by Christine Dann and Rachel Tracey, but it is The New Native Garden: Designing with Australian Plants that got me thinking about the different textures and colours of Australian native plants, and more specifically those that are Western Australian native plants.

I certainly will be looking at the Friends of Kings Park Plant Sale List for next year. I just wish there were easier or more common names to refer to the native plants. Fortunately, the Friends of Kings Park include volunteer Master Gardeners and they have a telephone hotline. If you are a home gardener or non-commercial group you can ring up for advice on native plants. What a great resource for Western Australian gardeners.

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