Perth’s landscape is pretty remarkable. From untamed bushland in the hills, to the ever-changing wetlands on the plains and our stunning coastline, there really is something here for everyone. Part of what makes our back yard so unique, is it’s incredible diversity in native plant and animal life. For example, you may not know that WA has the largest wildflower collection on Earth! More than 1200 species to be precise and 60% of these aren’t found anywhere else in the world. But with our suburbs expanding at an unprecedented rate, the ecosystems that support our incredible plant and animal populations are undergoing rapid decline and if we don’t act soon, we could lose some of our feathered, fury and leafy neighbours forever. You may wonder how all this is relevant to a Perth Landscapers blog, as you are likely to be here to get some inspiration for your latest outdoor project (rather than save the world), but what if you could make even just a small contribution to safe guarding what makes this beautiful place we call home so special?
Native versus exotic plant species has always been a contentious topic in the Landscaping industry. Unfortunately native plants in landscapes in Perth have gotten a bit of a bad reputation over the years, as they have been known to grow out of control and often not ‘fit’ the contemporary aesthetic, so many of us are trying to create in our perfect outdoor living space. But with our harsh climatic conditions and nutrient depleted soils, it would seem a bit of a no brainer not to include at least some plants that have evolved to withstand these testing conditions, not to mention being water-wise, attracting and supporting local wildlife and being non invasive near fragile bushland area’s. There are some stunning endemic plant species (plants that are found only here in WA) that do really well in garden settings. However, what you may not know, is that plant breeders both in WA and Australia wide, are working tirelessly behind the scenes, to create the perfect native plant cultivars for your home gardens as well.
Local governments are also doing their bit to promote native plants and if you haven’t already done so, why not search ‘native plants’ on our local council website and see what comes up?
You may be pleasantly surprised, as they often provide a wealth of information regarding which plant species will do particularly well in your suburb, the best locations for these in your garden, watering and maintenance requirements and some councils may even go as far as offering heavily discounted plants as well. Even if you are more drawn to current landscaping trends, such as contemporary tropical look landscapes, there is always room for at least one native plant, irrelevant of what garden style you are trying to achieve. There are so many fantastic species suited to a wide range of garden situations and below we have listed just a few of our WA endemic and native cultivar favourites, for residential landscaping in Perth:
Hemiandra pungens (Snake bush)
This prostrate groundcover is incredibly hardy and has bright green prickly foliage and delicate mauve flowers that appear in summer. It is is fast growing and can handle full sun to part sun locations and typically grows 30cm high by 1m wide.
Carpobrotus ‘Aussie rambler’ (Pig Face)
This is a great native creeping succulent, with large vibrant pink flowers in spring and autumn. This species is ideal for those exposed full sun to part shade locations, where not much else will grow. This species will typically reach 20cm high by 2m wide.
Grevillea ‘Gin gin gem’ (Spider Flower)
This evergreen groundcover has delicate red flowers for most of the year. Not only are these gorgeous looking, they also attract nectar feeding birds as well. This species is well suited to a sunny well-drained garden location and grows up to 30cm high by 2m wide.
Kennedia prostrata (Running postman)
This is a water-wise WA local, with vibrant red pea shaped flowers in spring and grey green leaves. It can handle full sun to part shade locations and typically grows 10cm high by 3m wide.
Scaevola ‘Purple fanfare’ (Fan flower)
This is one of many in the Scaevola family. As the name suggests, it has striking purple fan shaped flowers from spring through to autumn. This species does well in a wide range of garden situations and prefers a full sun position, coupled with well-drained soils. It can grow up to 30cm high by 2m wide.
STRAPPY LEAFED PLANTS
Anigozanthos species (Kangaroo paws)
These are the floral emblem of WA and for good reason. Their stunning nectar filled flowers are bird attracting and range in colour from deep reds to bold gold’s. There is a wide range of hybrid species available, to suit almost any full sun garden situation.
Conostylis candicans (Grey cottonheads)
Another fabulous drought tolerant WA local, with bird attracting yellow flower clusters peeking through striking silver sword like foliage. This species does well in full sun and can grow up to 30cm high by 50cm wide.
Dianella ‘Tas destiny’ (Variegated flax lily)
This species has unique silver and green striped foliage and provides great colour and textural interest in the garden. It does best in full sun to part shade positions and tolerates both well-drained soils to clay soils. It is also useful where space is limited, as it grows 35cm high by 35cm wide.
Liriope muscari ‘Just right’ (Lily turf)
This species is very uniform in size and flowers in spring, with lovely lilac flowers emerging from its deep green strappy foliage. It can be really effective when planted on mass, or as a border in full sun to heavy shade. It does well in both sandy and clay soils, is water-wise and grows 50cm high by 50cm wide.
Lomandra ‘Lime divine’ (Needle mat rush)
There are a lot of cultivars available in the Lomandra family, but Lime divine is definitely a stand out one. It has distinctive lime green foliage, with a weeping habit and small yellow flowers, which appear in spring and summer. It creates a great garden border and thrives in full sun, to part shade locations and grows 30cm high by 60cm wide.
Acacia cognata ‘Limelight’ (Bower of beauty wattle)
This species has a unique mound like habit with weeping lime green foliage. It is an incredibly hardy species and has a lot of potential applications. It does well in pots and when planted out in the garden as a feature shrub, or may even be planted to spill over a wall. It prefers a full to part sun location, with free-draining soils and grows 1m high by 1m wide.
Callistemon viminalis ‘Better john’ (Bottle brush)
This is a native cultivar derived from Callistemon Little john. This species has stunning red flowers in mid to late spring, which are contrasted beautifully by its silvery new growth and blue-green mature leaves. Better john can adapt to varying soils and does well in full sun to light shade areas. It is also drought tolerant and grows between 60cm to 1.2m high by 60 to 90cm wide.
Westringia ‘Grey box’ (Coastal rosemary)
This is another great contrast species, with a distinctive ball shaped habit, silvery grey foliage and small white flowers, which appear in September to May. It is great for a range of garden applications, including borders and mass plantings. It may also be used as a water-wise alternative, to the traditional English box hedge and does well in most soil types. It typically grows 45cm high by 45cm wide, but may be pruned to shape as well.
Leucophyta brownii (Silver cushion bush)
This is another unique WA local with a rounded habit and overlapping delicate silvery grey branches, giving it a stand out appearance. It also produces small yellow flowers from spring to summer and does especially well in a full sun position in coastal gardens. It can either be left to grow 100cm high by 100cm wide, or pruned to shape.
Pimelea ferruginea (Pink rice flower)
This small rounded shrub has green glossy leaves and striking pink flowers in spring through to summner. It will do well in most Perth garden soils and handles full sun to part shade positions. It grows 70cm high by 70cm wide and can look gorgeous when planted alongside other flowering species.
Agonis flexuosa nana (Dwarf willow peppermint)
This is a fantastic native hedging species, with mid green foliage, small white flowers in spring and lovely red hued new growth. It does well in full sun to part shade areas and free draining soils. It will grow 1m high by 1m wide and may be pruned to shape as well.
Adenanthos species (Woolly bush)
A range of Woolly bush cultivars are available, but one which is great for screening in the garden, is Adenanthos sericeus ‘Pencil perfect’. Covered in soft silvery foliage, it grows up to 3m high. Thriving in full to part sun, it can be planted as an informal hedge, which can be pruned to shape. Both hardy and drought tolerant, its small orange flowers produced for most of the year also attract birds.
Callistemon viminalis ‘Slim’ (Bottle brush)
With its gorgeous red bird attracting flowers, this is another garden favourite. A great screening option for narrow spaces, this species can grow 3m high by 1.2m wide. It is a water-wise variety that will thrive in even the most challenging of locations.
Syzygium ‘Bush christmas’ (Lilly pilly)
This is one of the most widely used native hedging species and for good reason. It has dark green glossy leaves and vibrant orange new growth. It is a summer flowering species, with white flowers and later small berries, which may be eaten. It is highly versatile, with uses such as hedging and even topiary. It does well in warm areas and in most soil types. If left to grow naturally, it can grow up to 3m by 1.5m wide, but can be pruned to shape as well.
Westringia ‘Blue gem’ (Coastal rosemary)
This is another member of the coastal rosemary family and produces the most striking dark blue to purple flowers, which really stand out against the plants grey green foliage. The species prefers well-drained soils and a position in full sun to part shade. It can handle coastal positions and is also drought tolerant and when left unpruned, it grows 1.5m high 1.3m wide.
Banksia prionotes (Acorn banksia)
This is a fast-growing small tree, with an open habit. It has distinctive toothed leaves and stunning yellow-orange flower spikes, which make an excellent cut flower. It handles Perth’s dry summers and both alkaline and sandy soils. This is another star performer in the drought tolerant, water-wise department and can hold its own in coastal areas as well. It will grow well in full sun and can grow 6 to 10m high by 4m wide.
Eucalyptus caesia ‘Silver princess’
Also known as Gungurru, this is another WA local. It grows up to 5m high by 4m wide and has an open weeping habit, with silvery foliage and showy bird attractant flowers. These appear from May to September and are followed by bell-shaped gum nuts. This tree looks especially striking, when planted in groups.
Eucalyptus ficifolia (Red- flowering gum)
There are many different cultivars available, but one that is slightly faster growing, is the Corymbia ficifolia grafted ‘Late red flowering gum’. This small WA evergreen tree typically grows 4-6m high by 3-4m wide. It has impressive clusters of red flowers in late summer, is a great shade tree, is fire retardant and attracts native birds as well.
Eucalyptus forrestiana ‘Fuschia Gum’
This is a highly ornamental tree native to Esperance, which grows 3m high by 2m wide. It has yellow flowers that appear in early spring and summer, gorgeous smooth bark and local birds love it as well.
Xanthorrhoea preissii (Grass tree)
Last but not least is the iconic Grass tree. This incredible species can live up to 600 years and has a very slow growth rate. It has vibrant green tufted grass like foliage, which sprouts from the top of its sturdy trunk. Mature plants produce large flower spikes every few years, which can reach a height of up to 3m. At full maturity this species will be up to 5m high and thrives in full sun. Its iconic sculptural form makes it a fantastic feature in any landscape.
These are just a few of many endemic and native plant species that could be well suited to your unique slice of the Perth landscape. As you can probably tell, we are very passionate about plants and helping you find the right species for your garden. If you are unsure of what to plant and where, or have any questions regarding the above listed species, please don’t hesitate to get in touch. We would love to help you make your garden come alive!
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