Armidale District

APS Armidale Fact Sheet - The garden that Andrew built

by Andrew Grigg 2006

My name is Andrew Grigg and I have been a member of the Armidale branch of the Australian Plants Society for just under a year. I am currently working on a native garden at the back of our house. I am working with the foundations that Dad first created before the house was built. Dad planted predominately natives up on the back hill, which have subsequently grown to form a ring around the garden edges. Also, when Dad first bought the block, he left the original Eucalypts to grow. They are now large trees providing bird habitat, shade and protection to new plantings.

Andrew Grigg in his garden

The block is in town and oriented on ahill, so the garden has a slope with a fairly high gradient, but our piece of the hill is only quite small. I am trying to use the hill tomy advantage, to create a tiered setting for the plants and by making a path that loops around the top of the hill with steps for walking.

At the top of the hill I have built a paved patio area for furniture doubling as an outdoor chess board.I enjoy collecting plants from all sorts of different places around Australia. I have a small collection of native grasses ( mainly Poa) at the base of the hill. Some of these are from the Wimmera district in Western Victoria. Poa sieberiana is an alpine grass given to me and obtained at a garden show in Melbourne. I hope to collect and group other plants around the garden, for example, I have begun to grow a selection of kangaroo paw.

I also hope to do more of my own propagation in the future as I get great satisfaction out of growing my own plants from seed or cuttings (maybe in the future I could try tissue culture). Some of my trials have worked well, such as some Hakeas grown from seed from one of the original shrubs in the garden. I have also had success with some of the cuttings obtained from the monthly meetings of the society, for example, a selection of Correa. I want to build a special propagation table behind the shed.

I have other plans for the garden to set off my native plants to better advantage such as a fern garden under the verandah, a neat paved area with the clothes line at the bottom of the garden, a nice lawn and a weed-free area around the shed.

I also like watching the birds that I'm able to attract to the garden. Some come for the water, others for the seed and others still for the habitat the garden provides:

  • Fairy Wrens like to hide out in the bushes and jump amongst the leaves.
  • The Yellow Tailed Black Cockatoos come for the Hakea seed,
  • the Eastern and Crimson Rosellas and the King Parrots come for the sunflower seed located in the two bird feeders in the garden, but sometimes they have a taste for the Grevillea flowers.
  • We sometimes get Kookaburras and a real treat is when the Tawny Frogmouth turns up, but the real entertainers and the most common bird in the garden is the
  • Wattle birds - it seems that they're always there. They especially like the Acacia longifolia in the back yard, although they are all over the place. They are very clean as they regularly bathe in the fishpond outside the front door.

People often ask me how I got interested in native plants, and I usually don't know how to answer. It isn't the usual hobby of a thirteen-year old. My only explanation is the unit of work I did in Year Four at school on native plants and animals. The class grew some Callistemon with the school gardener, Marie Ashmore. Mine is still growing nicely in the garden near the grasses. Later I joined the school garden club where we grew plants from seed, and built a vegie garden.

The Armidale branch of the Society is always very helpful and I gain knowledge and enjoyment from whatever activity I do with the group. One day I hope to host the end of year Christmas function and invite you all for afternoon tea up the back on the patio.

Andrew Grigg, Armidale, 2006