You know in horror movies when the bad guy finally gets a knife in his back, or a knitting needle in his eye or a round of bullets in his chest and dies, only to pop up again when you get your breath back and scare you silly?
Life is not typically like that (thankfully). There is one place though where you would enjoy some resilience. Where something keeps coming back no matter how badly you treat it. A green garden.
Your garden does look better green. It indicates that you care for and nourish your home.
Fill in the gaps with pavers, mulch, ground covers, sculptures, fountains or statues if you find a lawn difficult to cultivate or tame.
If you don’t have time to garden, have a black thumb or love your plants to death (you overwater them or burn their roots with fertiliser) there is a hardier option that’s a lot cheaper than hiring a gardener.
PLANTS THAT ARE HARD TO KILL
Let’s take a look at some plants that are hard to kill for even the worst gardener!
There are many varieties of cactus, not just the big ‘ol west ones. They grow to amazing sizes so be sure to pick the right size for where you want it to go. Round, flat, fluffy, spikey. They can sport some incredible flowers.
The Yucca is incredibly hardy. This good-sized shrub has a splay of upward pointing spear-like leaves. The Yucca flowers are quite beautiful, a cascade of white or cream coloured bells that cluster from a single stem in the middle of the plant. If you have space plant three or four Yucca together for a dramatic effect. Yucca plants will grow from a cutting so if you have one you can cut a piece and plant it directly into the ground to create another, or get a cutting from a friend or neighbour.
Star jasmine has been used in Australian backyards for generations as a climber to cover fences, garage walls and patios. It can also be used as a hardy groundcover. The foliage is thick and rich and the flowers are delicate, white and strongly fragrant. Train it to climb your back wall or use as a cover for any places that grass won’t grow (some large rocks left bare in the middle of a ground cover garden is quite effective. You will need to trim and make sure it only climbs where it’s supposed to.
The only word of warning here is that the perfume can cause hay fever and headaches for people with sensitive noses. Test fresh jasmine out on yourself and loved ones to be sure you are not going to bring a curse into the garden. If you are planning on selling your home in Spring, be aware that some buyers might run from your front gate with tears in their eyes.
Mother-in-law’s tongue is one common name, others are Viper’s Bowstring Hemp, Laurentii, and Snake Plant.
This hardy plant is related to the Yucca and can be seen in many Australian gardens. It’s short green upward pointing spears are great for the garden and often have thick yellow borders around the edge emphasising shape and giving some colour. Some leaves also twist which gives a full and lush look to a cluster.
Mother-in-law plants are healthiest when grown in pots. In the ground they look best on mass, acting as a ground cover, this can be especially effective against a painted wall. A series of small pots or a large pot with a thick cluster work really well, just make sure the pot is big enough for the cluster you are growing.
Occasionally you will find a small stalk appears at the base with a flush of flowers, this is infrequent and quite random although very decorative.
Like the Yucca you can grow a new plant from a cutting placed directly in sand or soil.
Aloe Vera has some incredible healing properties used in creams and sun lotions and has recently found favour in healthy drinks, including flavoured water.
It’s a sweet little plant that can be grown indoors or out, although it can completely overtake your garden if left to itself so do trim and divide when you notice clusters (knows as pups) growing from the sides of potted plants. It’s also necessary to divide the plant and either re-pot the clusters, sell or give away.
It has a stem of tiny tubular yellow flowers and looks great in rock gardens.
Also in this family are Aloe Haworthioides (fluffy looking leaves), Aloe Jaws (spiked leaves, yes, just like the teeth of the great white shark) and Aloe Saturn, also known as the Red Hot Poker plant that will add some incredible red colour to your garden when the series of thick red flower points are on show.
All these plants do well in hot dry weather with little water and are tolerant of cold, frost and most insects.
Succulents grow from cuttings and come in an incredible range of shapes. Selecting the right ones can really make a garden stand out. They also do amazingly well in pots, try them in hanging pots or glasses. Rather than snip from your neighbours when you see something you like, it’s best to go in an ask if you can take some of their supply.
There are 11 varieties of this Australian desert plant, each with incredible colour. If you like Australian native plants other hardy additions to your garden are the banksia, bottlebrush and waxflower.
If you are looking for some real colour you can’t go past the purple of the agapanthus, also known as Queen Anne. These bright and hardy flowers are great along walls.
You don’t have to spend a lot of effort, money and time to have a vivid garden. All the plants listed are incredibly cheap to buy and easy to maintain. It’s all about making a smart choice and great placement. Your garden is an outside glimpse of who you are and how you live, so make sure you garden tells the truth about you.
Peta Stewart – Certified Practicing Conveyancer