Planting an Australian Midcentury Modern Garden

It has now been about four months since we redesigned (and rebuilt) our front garden.  The lawn is growing well and keeping us busy using the mower, and we are still really happy with the paving and bluestone edge.

Our MCM Front Garden - J Davidson

It is still not finished however.  With the short break we had over Christmas we ran out of time to complete what is often seen as the most important part of a garden – the planting.

We did put some new plants in around the lawn and, as previously discussed, we transplanted as many species as we could (with varied success).  There are many holes though and, until filled, our masterpiece will not be complete!

A poor quality morning photo of our planting to the front wall.

A poor quality morning photo of our planting to the front wall.

So how do we plant our Australian Midcentury Modern garden?

I am a strong believer in using local native plants and try to do so wherever I can, in both our house and designs for my clients.  Locally indigenous plants have evolved to be the best match for local soil and climate conditions, while also providing great ecological benefits to the area’s native birds and animals.  These plants also maintain the local character of its gardens, especially in a suburb such as Beaumaris, which has such a strong link with its remnant native vegetation.

It is also important to select plants that provide function for your garden such as screening, shade, seasonal colour, varieties of texture and this can be achieved with the many other Australian natives that are available.

Plenty of options at your local nursery! This one is Plantmark

Plenty of native options at your local nursery! This one is Plantmark

So in our Beaumaris sand we have already planted a lovely mix of native and indigenous plants and as soon as we have time we will be filling the gaps!

Across the front of our property we wanted a little privacy above our already raised garden wall.  This is achieved with a mix of lower shrubs such as local Dianella tasmanica and Correa reflexa, and native Lomandra, Grevillea and Banksia.

Correa reflexa (Common Correa)

Correa reflexa (Common Correa)

Our cat admires the Dianella tasmanica

Our cat admires the form of Dianella tasmanica

Banksia spinulosa 'Birthday Candles'

Banksia spinulosa ‘Birthday Candles’ with Lomandra longifolia in the background.

We felt that the front corner at our letterbox needed a feature, so we have put in a Silver Princess Gum (Eucalyptus caesia) which is a stunning small, ornamental Gum tree with powdery white bark and red flowers.

Our Eucalyptus caesia 'Silver Princess' which in time will form a slender ornamental tree.

Our Eucalyptus caesia ‘Silver Princess’ which in time will form a slender ornamental tree.

Further around the lawn we have used a mixture of Dianella, Correa and Brachyscome mulifida (Native Daisy).

Brachyscome multifida (Native Daisy) - Please excuse the strategic hose placement!

Brachyscome multifida (Native Daisy) – Please excuse the strategic hose placement!

We don’t have a boundary fence to our neighbour’s front yard so for privacy (and safety for our little boy) we have planted a row of Leptospermum ‘Copper Glow’.  These should form a nice dense, tall screen and will be a great backdrop of dark bronze (or should I say copper) foliage to the predominant green of our other plants.

Our loot from the nursery before we put them in the garden - Leptospermum 'Copper Glow' is the middle plant.

Our loot from the nursery before we put them in the garden – Leptospermum ‘Copper Glow’ is the middle one.

Our two feature beds have some unique existing plants such as our two Xanthorrhoea (Grass-trees of course!), another Silver Princess Gum, our Bottle Tree (Brachychiton rupestris) and more Banksia so we have added to these with more Dianella and Correa (they make very good infill plants!)

Our feature bed of Xanthorrhoea, Silver Princess, Banksia (amoung others)

One of the feature beds including Xanthorrhoea, Silver Princess, Banksia, Dianella and Lomandra

A couple of other feature plants we selected were a Grevillea and Banksia marginata (Silver Banksia) next to our entry stairs and two potted Silver Banksia at our front door.

Potted Banksia marginata (Silver Banksia)

Potted Banksia marginata (Silver Banksia)

Unfortunately our Banksia at the stairs isn’t doing too well. It is in a very poor ordinary garden bed above our garage, so we might have to reconsider how we plant that space!

The garden above the garage with the ill-fated Banksia at the left.

The garden above the garage with the ill-fated Banksia.

Now Easter is upon us we may even get a chance to fill the spaces and also plant out our driveway embankment which is currently populated with some struggling (relocated) Lomandra longifolia, Ficinia nodosa and Dianella.  I want this slope to be a mass of strappy leaved grasses so it looks like we will plant more of the same and maybe also some Poa labillardieri (Common Tussock Grass).

Dianellas & Ficinas struggling on our driveway mound

Dianellas & Ficinas struggling on our driveway mound

Essentially in our garden we use hardy plants such as Correa and Dianella to create a lush green underplanting while species such as Banksia, Grevillea and Brachyscome provide seasonal colour and texture variety.

So there you have it. It’s off to the nursery to fill the boot with more stock and now the weather is getting cooler and wetter it’s a great time to get some more plants in!

While it always looks like a heap of plants in your boot, they don't go very far on the ground!

While it always looks like a heap of plants in your boot, they don’t go very far on the ground!

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One thought on “Planting an Australian Midcentury Modern Garden

  1. Looking good! Your cat supervisor approves. Those grass trees really are stunning.

    Bringing home a carload of plants is like going to IKEA: it’s so exciting until you come home and you realise that you’ve got plenty of work in store putting it all together. Or maybe that’s just my experience :)

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