South Australia's City of Prospect has sourced thousands of plants from the Australian Arid Lands Botanic Garden in Port Augusta for its $6.2 million Churchill Road Master Plan project.
Gardeners need to respond to the challenges of climate change and take the opportunity to be bold, imaginative and smart in the choices they now make.
With the majority of Aussie gardens still modeled on those of our European counterparts, it’s time we looked a little closer to home for inspiration according to Horticulturalist Deon Schumann, one of the people behind a range of water-wise AridSmart plants.
“Many of our garden choices, including the very notion of having a lawn, stem from European aristocracy. This makes perfect sense in a country where anything above 23 degrees is considered a heat wave, but less so here in South Australia - the driest state in the driest inhabited continent on Earth,” he said.
As the heat of summer continues for longer periods combined with rapidly rising water prices and unpredictable water restrictions, Mr Schumann says South Australians are slowly embracing a local and more appropriate gardening approach.
He points to the City of Prospect as a shining example to all with thousands of plants sourced from the Australian Arid Lands Botanic Garden in Port Augusta used in the $6.2 million Churchill Road Master Plan project.
“If anyone knows about plants that thrive and look great with next to no water, it’s the people of Port Augusta,” he joked.
It’s little wonder the City of Prospect looked North when sourcing more than 6,500 drought tolerant, native plants to beautify the new look boulevard.
City of Prospect Director of Infrastructure and Environment, Greg Georgopoulos, said the selection and sourcing of plants was critical to long term plans for this corridor.
“We took into account the 30 year plan for Metropolitan Adelaide, the impacts of climate change, community calls to use water wise and native plants that have a toughness to deal with one of Adelaide’s busiest freight corridors. At the same time this was an upgrade of public realm. Aesthetics were important as the road was being transformed into a boulevard so the plants also had to look good. The products and the service from the Australian Arid Lands Botanic Garden ticked every box,” Mr Georgopoulos said.
The unique collaboration is no doubt a sign of things to come as more councils and landscapers look for more water wise solutions.
According to Greg Perkin, City Manager of the Port Augusta City Council which manages the Australian Arid Lands Botanic Garden, “It’s a testament to the fantastic work being done here in Port Augusta that people are starting to embrace a smarter approach to their gardens. Some people might have us believe the solution is plastic lawn but surely we have better options than that?”
Many of the AridSmart plants not only require less water, but are also faster growing than their European counterparts. “The plants have taken to the new environment in spectacular fashion. We are really pleased with the outcome,” Mr Georgopoulos said.
Mr Perkin said gardeners should be adapting their gardens for climate change and with a great range of AridSmart plants, there are endless opportunities to improve the appearance of their gardens.
“It’s time we looked around at this stunning country we live in and took inspiration from the natural landscape. Tourists come from all over the world to admire our spectacular environment and yet up until recently, it’s been largely ignored as an inspiration for our own gardens.
"Port Augusta City Council is incredibly proud to be playing a part in helping people discover some fantastic choices with the AridSmart range of plants which includes everything from ground covers to trees. There are even AridSmart domestic garden options on display at the Australian Arid Lands Botanic Garden for those who want see examples of how AridSmart plants provide an extremely pleasant garden with minimal water use."
While only a select range of the AridSmart plants are on show in the Churchill Road project, the Australian Arid Lands Botanic Garden in Port Augusta features 250 hectares of arid zone plants which should provide more than enough inspiration for the average gardener.
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4352: Deon and one of the ground covers used in Prospect
4373: Ground cover used for the Churchill Road Master Plan projectat Prospect
4375 & 4386 Display gardens using AridSmart plants at the Arid Lands Botanic Gardens
4447: Deon with one of the Arid Smart plants available in the garden shop.
4500 & 4517: Deon with the famous Sturt Desert Pea