New Australia Garden
Over more than 200 years Leonardslee has seen introductions of new plants from all over the world. An Australia Garden is now being designed by John Wright, a writer and landscape architect who lived in Australia and worked as Development Officer for the University of Tasmania.
A clearing at Leonardslee Gardens was prepared in 2018, a plan drawn and the planting scheduled for April/May 2019.
John’s selection of plants results from years of research into the suitability of Australian plants for British gardens all year round. He has chosen plants that grow wild in Australia’s coldest areas - such as the fairly low-growing Snow Gums Eucalyptus debeuzevillei and Eucalyptus niphophila from New South Wales’ mountains - and Tasmania’s cool rainforests, which John hopes will be hardy enough for our winters.
Plants that are well-known to gardeners include banksias, grevilleas, bottlebrushes and mint bushes such as Prostanthera cuneata, Alpine Mint Bush – brush past them or crush the leaves to smell mint. Others are less well-known, such as spiky hakeas, prettily small-flowered tea trees and Acacia pataczeckii (Wally’s Wattle) that brings a splash of bright yellow in spring.
The theme for the garden is Australian bushland, featuring: eucalyptus trees with their open-branched canopy and the large, medium and small shrubs in their understorey along with ferns (Dicksonia antarctica), tufted perennial herbs like Dianella tasmanica (Blue Flax Lily or Tasmanian Flax Lily) and Diplarrena moraea (Butterfly Flag or White Flag Iris) and grasses (Poa labillardieri).
On the ground beneath, leaf litter and twigs that fall will be allowed to remain there, all to be part of the natural carpet of mulch that holds moisture and sustains the landscape in the wild, encouraging wildlife to be part of the scene too.
The site for the garden receives morning sunshine for much of the year and has lovely views down a gully; the plants and scheme have been chosen carefully so that the area will still be open to this sunlight and, like the bush, can be walked in.
Plants have also been selected to provide year-round flowers, with grevilleas, banksias and correas flowering in winter. Sunny well-drained sections of the site will suit the grevilleas, banksias, snow gums and acacias; there is shade for shade lovers like the starry white-flowered Whitey Wood (Acradenia frankliniae), running water for marsh lovers (Callistemon pityoides) and damp areas for others (Correa backhouseana), some plants versatile whatever the ground conditions.
Note: photos are of examples of some of the proposed plants shown growing in other British gardens. To find suppliers for any plants in the Australia Garden visit the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) Plant Finder online and enter their botanical names.