Tropical Climate Gardening

Your guide to all things garden in the tropics

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Our Garden

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Welcome to our garden!

A few times we have been asked what our gardens look like, we tend to be passionate about so many plants & trees that we cant resist trialing them on our place in Girraween.

Firstly i would like to say YES we do make mistakes, in fact our whole garden is a series of lessons learned. Each year our gardens change in one way or another, I think what makes our garden work is responding to mistakes and not being afraid to correct them. It's not uncommon for Kevin and I to spend months working on an area then two seasons later decide okay that's not working the way we planned, lets rip it up. 'If i was to give any gardener advice it would have to be make mistakes BUT learn from them. Don't be afraid to rip up plants everything in a garden is workable we have revamped gardens which contained the wrong everything into welcoming areas in a matter of days.  Another way I like to look at gardening is this; If we all read books, blogs etc.. and followed everything we read to a tea who's to say these writers were partly wrong or not tried alternative methods? I'm not saying don't read and learn (gosh i read every night for hours on the topic) but do this...take a bit of information from here and there but be original, be creative! Use yourself as the teacher life experience beats anything in writing.

Now where do we live? Rural Northern Territory on about 3acres just on the outskirts Darwin, It's a little slice of paradise we love to call our home.

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Our block tends to have different landscaping concepts on the entire land, we like it this way so we can walk around home and feel a new feeling in each created space. We have the tropical area, native area, the kitchen garden, the kids area, the playing field and a recently added formal decking area that overlooks our property which we dearly love but sadly don't get much spare time to sit there but when we do its pretty special.

Having land we are fortunate enough to trail all sorts plants, trees and ideas here before getting to work on our customers gardens. Trialing has been allot fun and just about every weekend we tend to come up with some sort of idea for a particular area and before we know it our weekend has been consumed by the garden once again.

The kitchen garden was the first and major garden I wanted established as its the most useful and rewarding one on the property, nothing beats fresh produce with no chemicals!

A native garden was high on my list as I have a real love for the outback flora and fauna, I love sitting in our native garden watching all the different birds in the trees, between the parrots, cocky's and butcher birds there isn't much silence in the garden- just as well I love their harmony ha!

Living in the tropics I just had to add a tropical garden for our southern family and friends, they are always amazed at the colour in the foliage and sense of tropical feeling a garden like this brings. Whilst its not my favourite part in the garden I am always amazed by the little surprises in this garden.

Our block is a working progress, we have been out here for 5 years and basically started with a clean slate so every year as thing grow its nice to flick back through old photos and see how far the gardens have come.

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I'm often asked by visitors how did we pick all the plant species and to be honest like I said our gardens were never really planned we created them one at a time based on our personality. Some days I want nature so i prefer to hang around the native side whilst other days Ive gone troppo and want to sip on cocktails surrounded by bright vibrant foliage.

Being landscapers we tend to be run off our feet so weekends are not like a traditional weekend, Kevin is off Saturdays doing irrigation and quotes for our business so its me and the kids that usually get stuck into the gardens. Afternoon time when Kevin arrives home Ive usually though up ideas and get him to work straight away before the sun disappears on us. Sunday 's we love to listen to Macca on the radio whilst on our decking (coffee in hand of course) then we discuss the days plan. We both live and breath gardening in all its forms from irrigation, landscaping and general gardening/ maintenance so our business really suits us and I can truly say i love my job.

Now when most look at our garden they usually then mention how much did it cost to do all this and i'll be honest and say- not a whole lot. Yes we get wholesale from garden nurseries but but we are just so busy doing other peoples gardens that we do not tend to  order for us at all, its all cuttings, markets and specials i may see around the place. Anyone can have a gorgeous garden in any theme if your patient. There is nothing wrong with slowly adding plants here and there over time. Stroll through the markets on a Saturday morning and pick up plants that catch your eye, you dont have know the in's and out's of it then and there. Simply ask the name of the plant your buying, then do research find that location its best suited to and get digging. Buying mass amounts is expensive if your going to nurseries or even Bunnings. I hate to see people spend enormous amounts on all these different kids of plants only to know nothing about the species and then the plants either get put in the wrong spot, die or go wild suffocating other plants- take your time and learn on the way.

As landscapers we are obviously dealing with clients who want bare spaces complete with a ready to go garden so yes we are dealing with many species to customers who sometimes no little to nothing about gardening. We have a data base now in the office so I can actually print out a little about all the selected plants for the job and then that way our customers are not getting left with a garden with no instructions on how to care for it. Its like a newborn baby in a way, we hand the garden over whilst its new,  its going to keep growing so you need to feed it with the right fertilisers and water it at the right doses.

In the years to come our garden will join the open garden scheme here in the Northern Territory, if your local we would love for you to take a wander.

Plans for 2014- Ahhh so many but what we are planning for next year is demolishing our current kitchen garden to make way for an extended grassed area for the kids, constructing a new bigger kitchen garden, creating another native area around our decking and adding lots of tropical exotic fruit trees around our oval area.

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©Kylie Stephens
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Guest Friday, 25 May 2018