This garden was the winner of the Northern NSW "Sustainable Gardening Challenge 2008", Keep Australia Beautiful NSW. The use of coarse sand as mulch, a frog pond, and shade houses to create microclimates - among other things - have contributed to a noticeable increase in biodiversity.
For many years we enjoyed our farm house garden which included a few natives and many exotics from violets to poplars, largely the gifts or "pass-ons" from family and friends. About five years ago we sold our sheep stud, retained 45 breeding cows, and increased our efforts in helping native animals.
It soon became clear that we had created a little exotic oasis in the middle of eucalypt grassland. The plants were not supporting much more than noisy miners. We also needed a source of food for the native animals in our care.
So fences were moved out, built-up planting beds prepared, and lots of native plants were purchased from the Armidale Tree Group and the local branch of the Australian Plant Society. Coarse sand as a mulch allows every drop of water to soak in and weeds became much easier to remove. We soon learntabout microclimate, logs to re-direct frost and shade houses which could extend the range of plants which would survive our harsh climate. Poplars, which were too friendly with the drainage pipes anyway, came down and very soon we felt the garden reconnecting with the surrounding countryside.
Quite by accident the garden has developed into four distinct areas:
- The entrance area has been densely planted and pathways covered in woodchip. A wide range of named species are represented and about 800 varieties or species fill the area.
- The north garden has been developed to cope with house surplus water in an environmental way. Dry creek beds are surrounded by grasslands, lilies, sedges and grass trees. Small pieces of history and ceramic sculptures are scattered through the area. A background of mallees will enhance the connection with the surrounding paddocks already filled with lots of box and red gums.
- A special interest in Casuarina has prompted the development of an arboretum and includes species from many States; some ground covers all the way up to the familiar oaks we see along rivers. This area connects to a corridor joining to Yina Nature Reserve, which adjoins the eastern side of "Carwell".
- Finally there is the original house garden area which still contains many exotics. They blend so well with natives such as Correa and Crowea and the original garden beds against the house provide great shelter for some special species.
Even though many plants are still in early growth, the birds have already increased in number. This is not a garden with mature trees, straight borders or neat plantings. It is a garden very much in its early stage of development and a compliment would be for a visitor to say that they look forward to visiting again in a few years time.
For further information email APS Armidale enquiries or ring (02) 6775 3767.