Gardening is a fantastic way to spend time outdoors. Nurturing a plant and watching it grow from a seedling into an established, living organism is a hobby that can foster a strong connection to nature in not only seasoned gardeners, but beginners and children alike. However, gardening with indigenous plants can be beneficial to both the gardener and the local ecosystem.
But what is an indigenous plant? Plants that are indigenous to a particular locality are species that naturally occur in that area. For example, Coast Banksia (Banksia integrifolia) is an indigenous plant of coastal Melbourne suburbs such as Brighton and Frankston, but is not found naturally in regions such as the Yarra Ranges or Bendigo.
Aside from the personal enjoyment and satisfaction one may gain from creating and caring for an indigenous garden, indigenous gardens can positively contribute to local biodiversity. By planting indigenous species in your garden, you are able to help boost local floral biodiversity, but also provide a range of habitats and food sources to our native animals – including not just birds and mammals, but insects, reptiles and amphibians too.
The first step in creating an indigenous gardening is to determine which plant species are indigenous to your area. This may sound daunting, but there are many fantastic resources that will assist you in this challenge. For example, visit your local council’s website. Many council websites provide an indigenous flora guide for their region, which will help you to start planning your garden. Paying a visit to your relevant indigenous nursery is also a must, as they will be able to help you select appropriate species for your garden.
Costerman, Leon. Native Trees and Shrubs of South-eastern Australia. Reed New Holland, 1981.
Bull, Marilyn. Flora of Melbourne: a guide to the indigenous plants of the greater Melbourne area. Hyland House, 2014.