Garden Tips for the West Kimberley


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Garden Tips for the West Kimberley

  1. 1. waterwiseways Garden Tips for the West Kimberley
  2. 2. Aloe INTRODUCTION The West Kimberley region is recognised as one of the world’s most beautiful, yet harshest environments. Unchanged for millions of years, the plants and animals have managed to survive extreme conditions of heat and cold. Growing a garden in this region can be quite challenging. The most critical aspect to gardening in the West Kimberley is maintaining a good supply of water and local knowledge on how much should be used effectively. This brochure has been put together by horticulture experts to help you make correct choices on plants for your garden. It explains how to grow a huge array of plants and grass types by using less water and still achieve great results. CLIMATE AND GARDENING ENVIRONMENT Temperature Temperatures across the region are consistently high and summer temperature averages range between 34°C to 38°C, with the June to August period presenting an average range of 26°C to 29°C. Extremes in temperature are regularly recorded between 0°C and 46°C plus. Rainfall The climate of the region is arid, semi-desert with relatively high rainfall between January and March, reducing to smaller showers between April and June of around 3mm to 10mm. The rainfall is mostly seasonal,
  3. 3. Bougainvillea Penelopeposing significant challenges to gardeners in the monthswhen there is often no rainfall at all (June-September).WindWind can play a major role in affecting both plant growthand the amount of water needed. Winds vary by seasonand location in the West Kimberley and the cyclonicwinds experienced between January and March cansignificantly set back many plant varieties. It’s wise toestablish wind breaks or barriers to protect plants andreduce the effects of soil evaporation.Soil typesSoil types in the region vary, although pindan red loamand gravel or heavy stone baked loam makes up thebasis of most soils throughout this region. These soilsshould be blended using compost and gypsum to makethem suitable for successfully growing plants not nativeto the region. Growing local plants is the most effectiveway to establish a water-efficient garden.GARDEN DESIGN AND STYLEGarden styles can have a major influence on the amountof water used. Plant selection is also critical and thereare many other regions of the world that experiencesimilar environmental conditions. Various plants fromthese regions have developed adaptations such aswater storage capabilities or hibernation abilities duringextreme conditions, making these plants ideal for theWest Kimberley. When establishing a new garden it isimportant to consider factors such as evaporation, wind
  4. 4. Bush Poinciana and soil erosion, water features, mulching, watering systems and selecting the right plants. Reducing evaporation A key factor to any design is the creation of a sun and wind protected environment. This reduces evaporation caused by heat and wind and increases humidity, resulting in lusher and stronger growth. Almost every garden can achieve this by: ~ Creating large perimeter hedges. ~ Use of trees and palms to shade the garden. ~ The addition of a pergola, shade sails/cloth, gazebos and patio structures. ~ Placing structures such as sheds around the outside perimeter of the garden/property to create protected positions within the garden. ~ Positioning buildings on windward sides of the property to assist in breaking down the major prevailing winds. Styles of garden suitable to this region Selecting a garden style when planning your new garden can deliver conformity and structure in its final appearance. Styles that feature waterwise plants and water efficient gardening techniques include: ~ Mediterranean ~ Local native plants ~ Tropical and edible plants
  5. 5. Crown of ThornsMany home gardens are a hybrid of different styles andbreaking your garden into segments or mixing styles cancreate an aesthetically pleasing blend. However, it isvital that the plants are grouped together by water usagerequirements to minimise wastage.Water featuresThese are becoming a popular component of manyAustralian gardens. Positioning your water feature in ashaded location will assist in reducing evaporation. Thiswill lower temperatures by as much as 8°C. Wheneverpossible, water features, including ponds, should befilled or topped up with natural rainfall, ideally fromroof overflow or drainage redirection. Keeping the watersurface area to a minimum and including water plantsreduces evaporation.Retrofitting your existing garden to be waterwiseConsider retrofitting your garden by transplantingplants into more suitable water requirement groupsand plant others that will assist in the creation ofmicro-communities. It is worthwhile replacing your oldreticulation system with a modern watering device thatdelivers a precise number of water droplets direct to theroots of the plant without spray or misting.Improving the garden environmentWhile there are a huge range of introduced plant speciescapable of growing in the region, the West Kimberley is abit more restricted in the varieties suitable for domesticcultivation. Reducing evaporation through the creation of
  6. 6. Hing Kong Orchid Tree microclimates and extensive use of mulches will reduce the demand for watering. Wind protection Adding wind protection devices such as shade cloth or hessian wraps around new and establishing trees and shrubs is critical to encouraging fast initial growth. This also reduces wind induced evaporation and the need to water. Soil conditioning Native species will usually grow in natural soil without any additional organic matter. When planting exotic species, adding a composted soil into the planting hole will greatly benefit the establishment and growth of the plant. It is important to use a premium quality soil improver. Look for the Australian Standards five tick red mark that identifies premium quality blends. Where possible, mounding or raising garden beds using a richly organic soil is beneficial and these types of garden beds will be less susceptible to saturation during heavy rains. The open, free-draining nature of the soil improver mixed at a 50/50 ratio with the garden soil type will encourage rapid establishment of a deeper root system requiring less water. Organically enriched garden soils retain moisture and nutrients around the plant’s root system longer, resulting in stronger growth.
  7. 7. Variegated PandanusMulchingThere are many different types of mulches available.Within densely planted garden beds, it is better to usecomposted organic products.~ Compost - Organic mulches vary by locality and often by the availability of organic material. Most organic materials can be successfully turned into compost, and home scraps and garden vegetation can be used to create compost suitable for using as surface mulch. Green waste or shredded tree clippings make excellent surface mulch for garden beds once composted. Coco peat, a product derived from coconut production and available in compressed blocks from nurseries, is also an economical way to reduce surface evaporation.~ Rocks and stones - Stones, pebbles and coarse sand are also considered as mulch and can be used in shaded locations. They should not be used as surface mulch in full sun garden beds. This practise will intensely heat the soil during the day, causing rapid drying of the surface of the soil where feeder roots grow. The rocks will continue to conduct heat in the evening, maintaining high levels of evaporation and subsequent watering requirements to sustain most exotic garden plants.~ Combination of mulching - Use a 200mm-thick layer of composted organic matter as a surface cover on all external garden beds where plants are to grow. In other areas stones, pebbles, rock, gravel and coarse sand will look good and smother seasonal weeds.
  8. 8. Direct Delivery Watering System WATER-EFFICIENT PRACTICES AND SYSTEMS An efficient watering system is vitally important to deliver water in the appropriate volumes for specific garden needs. Technology continually improves in direct delivery irrigation systems and specialist irrigation outlets offer important advice for anyone considering adding a watering system to their garden. Watering for lawns Lawns are best watered using subsurface irrigation systems which deliver water direct to the lawn’s root system. These systems are installed under the turf before it is laid or can be cut into the surface of existing lawn areas. If your system uses pop-up sprinklers, converting to low volume stream sprinklers should be considered. These sprinklers deliver water in a more direct manner instead of mist droplets that often blow away. While lawns are important to a garden’s aesthetic appeal, they do use large amounts of water. Try to keep lawn areas to a minimum. Watering for plants Plants should be watered using direct delivery irrigation systems. The most effective garden bed watering systems for use in the West Kimberley are dribblers, drippers and subsurface inline irrigators. These sprinklers deliver water direct to the base of the plant and the water soaks the soil directly below the plant. This encourages roots to follow the water down deeply into the soil, reducing the chances of the plant becoming water stressed when the topsoil dries on the hottest days.
  9. 9. Waterwise PlantingSELECTING PLANTS FOR THE WEST KIMBERLEYA critical factor when establishing a waterwise garden,is plant selection and how the plants will be groupedtogether. Obtaining advice of a professional gardener orlandscaper will assist in the right plant placement andstructure of your garden.~ Strategic placement around the garden’s external boundaries will shield the garden from winds and cool on hot days, protect plants from the extremes and create a microclimate where many different plant species will grow well.~ Cluster plantings where the same or mixed varieties are grouped closely together by their water requirements. A watering system should be designed to provide different amounts of water to each plant grouping, reducing the waste that occurs with over watering.~ Microclimates are created when plants are grouped in this way, which assists in reducing evaporation. These protected mini communities create wind breaks and raise humidity. Native trees play a critical role in protecting plants below the canopy from the harshest of hot days, cooling the garden and also the home environment, reducing the need for power for air conditioners.
  10. 10. Hibiscus Pendunculatum PLANTS SUITABLE FOR THE WEST KIMBERLEY REGION Following is a selection of proven plant species to consider adding to your garden. Under ‘Water Needs’, one drop plants are the most water efficient with two drop plants requiring more water to survive. More information on these plant varieties can be gained online by visiting Plant selection Native/ Water Common Name Botanical Name Exotic Needs Trailing Lantana Lantana montevidensis E 1 Native Jasmine or Pandorea jasminoides N 1 Bower of Beauty Moses in the Tradescantia spathacea E 2 Cradle Sago Palm Cycas revoluta E 1 Triangle Palm Dypsis decaryi E 1 Foxtail Palm Wodyetia bifurcata N 2 Palms Millstream Fan Livistona alfredii N 1 Palm Cardboard Palm Zamia furfuracea E 1
  11. 11. Madagascan Periwinkle Growth Habit Description200mm groundcover Available in mauve and white flowering forms. Hardy, low growing colourful groundcover for a full sun position.Vigorous spreader Twining vine with large bunches of pinkto 5m trumpet flowers.Groundcover Clumping groundcover, ideal for shaded positions.Compact Cycad 2m Architectural feature plant, ideal for pots, full sun or shaded garden positions.Palm to 7m A full sun, drought tolerant palm with grey green foliage and an unusual triangle shaped crown.Specimen palm An outstanding specimen palm, suitable forto 10m small or large garden areas. Deep succulent roots allow it to survive long dry periods with little ill effect.Palm to 10m Compact fan palm, capable of growing through long dry periods without detrimental effect. Broad fan-shaped foliage.Clumping cycad 2m Compact clumping cycad, ideal for pots and full sun garden positions.
  12. 12. Moses in a Cradle, Tradescantia Spathacea Native/ Water Common Name Botanical Name Exotic Needs Golden Cane Chrysalidocarpus E 2 Palm lutescens Wonga Wonga Pandorea pandorana N 1 Vine Dwarf Coconut Cocos nucifera E 1 Palm Climbers and Decorative Foliage Dwarf Oleander Nerium oleander nana E 1 Oleander Nerium oleander E 1 Fijian Fire Bush Acalypha wilkonsonii E 2 African Daisy Osteospermum ecklonis E 1 Bougainvillea Bougainvillea glabra E 1 Dwarf Bougainvillea glabra E 1 Bougainvillea nana Geranium Pelargonium zonale E 1 Hybrid Cultivars Vinca Catharanthus rosea E 1 Hybrid Cultivars Portulaca Portulaca grandiflora E 1 Hybrid Cultivars Day Lily Hemerocallis cv. E 1
  13. 13. Vinca Growth Habit DescriptionClumping palm 6m Tough palm for full sun or part shade garden positions.Vigorous spreader Glossy foliage, small trumpet flowers into 6m large bunches. Colours vary from pink through yellow.Palm to 5m Smaller growing coconut palm for use in a full sun position.Shrub to 1m Very hardy, low growing shrub.Shrub to 4m Excellent screening or windbreak plant. Dense growing, extremely hardy with very low water requirements once established.Shrub to 3m This plant comes with several different species and cultivars growing in different colours and sizes.Flat growth to 60cm Fast spreading growth, lush green foliage, brightly-coloured flowers as well as its drought tolerance make these popular.Climber to 5m One of the most rewarding, hardiest flowering climbing plants available to West Kimberley gardeners.Shrub to 1m New compact forms of this popular climber that have a shrub-like habit, remaining compact and flowering for 9 months of the year.Upright annual to 1m Many different flower colours available, this can make a showy bedding plant. Drought tough.Upright, small shrub- Heat loving bedding plant in a range oflike plants to 50cm flower colours. Can set own seed or survive winter to flower again the following summer.Spreading Summer season annual with flowers ingroundcover to 30cm electric colours.Grassy-looking plant Drought tough flowering lily that can alsoto 40cm handle being inundated for part of the year. Many colours available in flowers.
  14. 14. Pride of Barbados Native/ Water Common Name Botanical Name Exotic Needs Climbers Border Silver Dianella ensifolia ‘Border E 1 Dianella Silver’ Blue Garlic Vine Cydista aequinoctialis E 1 Little Jess Dianella Dianella cv. ‘Little Jess’ N 1 Miniature Mat Lomandra cv.‘Tanika’ N 1 Rush Fig Ficus carica E 1 Carob Ceratonia siliqua E 1 Chinese Date Zizphus jujuba E 1 Jungle Flame Ixora coccinea E 2 Bismarck Palm Bismarckia nobilis E 1 Tress and Shrubs Hills Fig Ficus hilli E 1 Weeping Fig Ficus benjimina E 2
  15. 15. Wattle Growth Habit DescriptionGrassy, clumping plant Tough, attractive strap-leaf plant with creamto 60cm variegation. An excellent border plant. Tiny purple flower spikes.Climber to 2m Outstanding flowering climber, producing mauve-pink flowers with garlic fragrance.Grassy, clumping plant Rich green foliage and a compact habit maketo 60cm this tough plant a classy choice for a border.Grassy clumping plant Dwarf grass with bright green fine foliageto 60cm and white flower clusters. Can handle seasonal flooding as well as drought times.Spreading tree to 4m Deciduous tree for tough locations, bearing fruit in summer.Spreading tree to 6m Evergreen tree with foliage that can be stock feed and edible pods in late summer.Very hardy to 6m Deciduous tree, heat and cold hardy, bearing olive-shaped fruit in summer with an apple flavour.Hedging shrub to 1m A popular sub tropical shrub ideal for both sunny and semi shaded positions. Very hardy once established.Fan palm to 20m A magnificent feature palm, often producing striking grey-blue foliage. Producing a deep tap root, this is incredibly waterwise once established.Large, spreading tree A grand specimen with deep green foliageto 20m and a spreading crown. An excellent shade tree that will dramatically cool the garden.Large, spreading tree A magnificent weeping foliage tree thatto 18m makes a wonderful feature specimen in a larger garden. Can also be used as a pot plant indoors and outdoors, full sun and shade.
  16. 16. The Blue Garlic Vine Native/ Water Common Name Botanical Name Exotic Needs Cotton Wood Hibiscus tileaceous rubra E 2 Firecracker Plant Russellia equisitiformis E 1 Lilyturf Liriope muscari E 2 Evergreen Plumeria obtusa E 1 Frangipani Red Butterfly Bauhinia galpini E 1 Bush Golden Trumpet Allamanda cathartica E 2 Crown of Thorns Euphorbia milli E 1 Twin Leaf Corymbia cadophora N 1 Bloodwood Variegated Pandanus veitchii E 1 Pandanus variegata Blue Water Lily Nymphaea violacea N Boab Adansonia gregorii N 1 Purple Mulla Ptilotus exaltatus N 1 Mulla
  17. 17. Tropical Grevillea Growth Habit DescriptionSmall tree to 5m A tough coastal tree, producing burgundy- red foliage and ideally used as a screening plant or garden backdrop.Compact shrub to 1m An excellent cascading growth habit, with red tubular flowers produced in the thousands. There is also a cream version available. Ideal for full sun positions.Clumping, strap-leaf A very tough strap-leaf plant producing500mm attractive flowers followed by purple berries.Small tree to 6m Outstanding flowering tree, with dark green foliage all year round and white heavenly fragrant flowers for 10 months.Spreading shrub to 2m Prolific flowering shrub, with an extensive deep root system and capable of surviving long periods without watering.Shrub to 2m Exceptionally beautiful yellow flowering climber with lush emerald green foliage.Succulent shrub Tough compact shrub, ideal for gardensto 500mm in full sun or pot culture. Flowers all year round in a range of colours from cream, yellow to red.Compact tree to 8m Outstanding broad leaf foliage tree, with huge clusters of flowers ranging in colour from pink through to red.Branching shrub An outstanding feature shrub, withto 4m magnificent creamy-yellow foliage variegations. Ideal as a large shrubbery plant.Pond plant Native water lily, growing best in this climate.Unique tree The iconic plant of the Kimberley region. Slow growing but very attractive as an immature small sized tree.Herbaceous plant Prolific flowering wildflower that makes ato 1m max superb display when planted on mass in January from seed.
  18. 18. Waterlily TURF AND GROUNDCOVERS Lawn varieties suitable for the West Kimberley ~ Paspalum - a coastal grass which is a succulent, low-lying, turf type grass that thrives in the warm season. It’s capable of growing near very salty water and performs better than most grass types in hot, humid environments. ~ Couch grass - an ideal grass type for most garden situations and the toughest varieties are ‘Wintergreen’ and ‘Windsor Green’, with the latter having a particularly deep and wiry root system. ~ Zoysia grass - fast becoming one of the most popular turf grasses overseas because of its waterwise traits. Capable of surviving summer without added water, it becomes dormant and regenerates with the first rains. ~ Buffalo grass - is recognised as one of the most waterwise varieties available to home gardeners. Best varieties for this region include ‘Palmetto’ and ‘Sir Walter’.
  19. 19. Variegated Lily TurfGroundcovers/grass alternatives~ Lippia (Phyla nodiflora) - covers the ground like a mat. It is a perennial, broadleaf herb, with grey-green leaves 10mm to 20mm long. Each tiny leaf has two or three serrations on each side. Lippia produces numerous small, round lilac flowers. The plant has a taproot up to 2 metres deep, allowing it to survive long, dry periods.~ Kidney weed (Dichondra repen) - excellent groundcover for shaded and sunny positions. The extensive root system helps the plant survive drought conditions.~ Silver falls (Dichondra argentea) - exotic species of Dichondra capable of growing strongly in a full-sun position, as well as in semi-shaded gardens.Best planting seasonsThe best time of the year for planting in the WestKimberley is when the traditional rainy season arrives(November – February). Planting should be done fromDecember through to March to get the best from highsoil moisture levels.
  20. 20. waterwisewaysWe hope this brochure has been helpful in assistingyou with ideas on how to establish and maintain awaterwise garden.Remember, the Water Corporation has lots of waysyou can save water, both in the home and aroundyour garden.Simply call the Waterwise Infoline on 13 10 39 or visitour website at