Visiting a stunning garden with a small woodland, a meadow, and a cottage garden feel and plenty of maples. Subscribe 🔔
Sophie is in Kaurna Country north of Adelaide visiting a couple of vets whose passion for animals is matched by their passion for gardening. Alana and Cornell, originally from South Africa, live on a busy street with a garden crammed with variety against the backdrop of their 1920’s house.
Growing Japanese maples in Adelaide’s hot climate is certainly not easy. The key to Alana and Cornell’s success is planting them in the right spot, grouping them together, giving them time to adapt to the climate, and planting them in pots so they can be moved around to microclimates in the garden. Alana says, “they don’t like afternoon hot sun by any means, but they do like morning sun.” With Adelaide experiencing several tough hot summers lately, some days reaching 49°C, Cornell says the maples “came out better than most of our plants, they’re incredible trees.” Alana adds, “it’s quite a leafy garden here and the microclimate is excellent for them, they also help create that microclimate” and by grouping them close to other trees it creates an evaporative cooling effect.
Their obsession with maples was inspired by a trip to Japan and noticing the vast variety of shapes, colours and habits. At home, they grow twenty-three Japanese maples, some freeman maples at the front and red maples out the back. Some of the more delicate cultivars need extra care and are planted into pots which means keeping them hydrated could be difficult. However, Alana says, “if you mulch them well, incorporate compost and enrich the soil they retain their water much better.”
The effect of having so many trees in a small space means it keeps the house cooler, but it does require a lot of water. Alana says, “I’d rather put the water on the garden than run it through the air-conditioner. (The trees) give back to us by giving us luscious evaporative cooling that comes right through the house.” Amazingly, Cornell says their water use has gone down through the years which he says “seems counter-intuitive… but I think that’s because of the micro-climate that we’ve created.”
Further towards the back of the garden is a copse of silver birches creating a space that “makes you feel like you’re in a magic forest.” These are cool climate forest plants, so you don’t often see them doing well in Adelaide. Their secret to success was crowding them together, and planting seedlings into soil enriched with mushroom compost. The silver birch trees have in turn created a true woodland environment with corydalis, hellebores, hydrangeas and even bird life thriving in this microclimate. To water the woodland, they put a sprinkler on once or twice a week in the peak of summer.
They have so many different areas in the garden but noticeably no lawn. Cornell says, “I decided I wasn’t going to push a lawn mower around, so we decided to grow the meadow grasses which give us such nice texture” as well as a more natural look. They grow mostly native grasses, tussock grass, lomandra and carex which require less water. A grass reminiscent of their homeland South Africa is the sterile fountain grass. “They give me memories of where I’ve grown up in South Africa, with horses and wide skies, it’s very close to my heart.”
Reclaimed antique bricks and materials are planned into rounded shapes and curved paths and go well with the plants selected. Cornell says, “because the garden is quite small, it slows you down as you move through the garden. Not having any straight edges makes it look just that little bit bigger.” Reflecting on the project, they agree this is a project of passion and a place of solace for them at the end of a long day. Alana says, “it’s taken on a life of its own and it’s exceeded our expectations by miles.”
Gardening Australia is an ABC TV program providing gardening know-how and inspiration. Presented by Australia’s leading horticultural experts, Gardening Australia is a valuable resource to all gardeners through the television program, the magazine, books, DVDs and extensive online content.
This is an official Australian Broadcasting Corporation YouTube channel. Contributions may be removed if they violate ABC’s Online Conditions of Use (Section 3).
Original Source Link