Australia has an array of native plants, roughly 24,000 species in fact. Distinct and diverse, some of these plants have been a source of food, medicine and aesthetic appeal for millennia.
Today, many of these plants are used for native garden design ideas, from sustainable pioneers to patriotic horticulturists, green thumb wizards experimenting with different plants to botanical gardens keen to promote Australia’s beautiful trees, shrubs and flowers.
A Brief History of Australian Native Plants
For upwards of 40,000 years, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have used the land and resources at their disposal, including the plants. According to Beth Gott, at least half of food eaten by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples came from plants – fruits, grains, greens and roots.
Australian native plants have many common uses beyond food too. Grasses and sedges make baskets, mats and nets; tree bark makes buckets, dishes, even canoes; the gum from the eponymous eucalyptus trees aids burns and ailments; native mints act as remedies for colds and coughs.
As the Australian population and culture has evolved, so too has our landscape, which has unfortunately brought about the destruction of many native species. Luckily, though, conservation efforts and greater awareness have helped combat this.
Planting Seeds for the Future
We Aussies are spoilt for choice when it comes to picking native species to include in our garden designs. Often known for their resilience and beautiful looks, Australia’s plants can bring your native garden alive with colour, awash with lush greens or bathed in a canopy of rich foliage.
Australia’s flora range drastically depending on their location. Like most plants, each Aussie native favours certain garden conditions. For example, the climate, soil and tropical conditions in Queensland assist the growth of tropical, fruit-bearing trees whereas South Australia is conducive to root vegetables.
Whatever your garden design ideas, native plants can certainly add another dimension. Pretty much anything’s possible. Maybe you’d like to add some native ground cover, separate your borders with a line of shrubs, create a centrepiece of majestic orchids, fashion a tree-lined grove for a shady reprieve or perfect a vibrant flower bed.
Basically, no matter the size or scope of your garden, whether rundown or pristine, manicured or wild, you’ll be sure to find some truly stunning Aussie plants waiting for you.
To find the right plant for your garden conditions, make sure you check out our Mega Guide to Australian Native Plants. You can browse through a plethora of native trees, shrubs, flowering plants and orchids, view picture galleries of each species and read the best methods for planting and maintaining each one.
It’s a fantastic guide, which even allows you to filter by favoured weather conditions, growing difficulty and types of plants, to cater to your exact needs and have you reaping exactly what you want to sow.
Native Australian Garden Design Ideas
This wouldn’t be much of a post without including some images of great Australian native garden designs. So here we’ve picked a dozen or so of our favourite native gardens. Hopefully, they’ll give you some ideas and inspirations!
Native Garden with Hardscaping
This lovely assortment of 100% Australian natives – shrubs, trees and flowers – all in unison actually inspired a winning Chelsea Flower Show entry in 2011.
Image courtesy of Garden Life.
Phillip Johnson and Wes Fleming incorporated ladders and sculptures into their winning 2013 Chelsea Flower Show entry.
Image courtesy of news.com.au.
Native Garden with Lawn
In this garden by Robert Boyle, corridors of lawn separate a wonderful diaspora of silvery shrubs.
Image courtesy of Boyle Landscape.
This dry garden utilises colour to great effect. It’s great if you’d rather ditch the water-loving lawn.
Image courtesy of Australian Plants.
Ground Cover Native Garden
The ground cover helps accentuate the wooden sculpture centrepiece.
Image courtesy of Willie Wildlife Sculptures.
Australian Native Garden for Small Spaces
Australian garden designs aren’t confined to mammoth spaces. They work in confined urban spaces and bordering pavements too.
Image courtesy of realestate.com.au.
Garden with Australian Native Trees
A vast expanse of lawn looks good broken up with native trees. Frame the tree trunks with native shrubs and grasses.
Image courtesy of realestate.com.au.
Garden with Australian Native Grasses
This corner of corrugated iron fence is made attractive with vines, waif-y grass and fuchsias.
Image courtesy of How to Garden.
Native Rainforest Garden
Go all out with a bushy approach to native gardens.
Image courtesy of Garden Drum.
Find out more about planting Aussie natives in your garden with our epic, interactive guide to Aussie native plants today!