A few years ago I was watching “Gardening Australia” when they visited a gardener who talked about Garden Rooms. Her garden was divided into themed sections like a series of rooms with different environments and functions.
The idea captured my imagination and I started to plan. A few months later I had planned all of my landscaping in “rooms”. Each part of my garden would serve to showcase its function for my family. That vision has been refined and reimagined too many times to count as I work out what will grow where and struggle with elements I can’t control like a two year drought. Still, the concept looms large in my mind and I am still enamoured with the idea and I am very slowly making it come to life.
What is a garden room?
Really it’s anything YOU want it to be. In the Northern Hemisphere it’s conservatories and summer houses. I asked my Instagram followers what they thought garden rooms were. The predominant themes were of course lots of plants, but also peaceful places, places to relax and drink tea, and themed areas.
How do you create a garden room?
First you have to work out what the term “garden room” means to you. Here I will give brief introduction to how I am constructing my garden rooms and what I hope to achieve in each one. I have given each area or room in my garden its own name that alludes to it’s function and the kind of plants I want to use to “design and decorate” according to that function. As I have time I will publish a blog post on each room detailing the vision, the progress and the challenges.
The following photos are evidence that this is an ongoing process. There’s no quick way to landscape and maintain 3 acres. Life happens and one falls behind but the vision remains and motivates me. Let’s take a stroll through the garden rooms…
The Native Foyer
As the name suggests, this area is near the front gate. I want this garden to not only welcome our human visitors but also small birds, insects and other animals.
For more detail about “The Native Foyer” click here.
The Fairy Path
This room happened by accident. Originally it was an area near the carport that hosted a number of native “volunteers”. When we renovated it, we couldn’t get the space to work until we created a narrow ring path. Adults can use it but it’s just the right size for young children to run and explore. A little fairy house magically appeared overnight and the die was cast!
The Tropical Room
This room is in an enclosed space near our front door. A glass sliding door also opens into the space and I have grand visions for a water feature and pond surrounded by lush greenery. Originally I planned to fill it with Native Rainforest plants but the drought taught me that I will need to be more creative. For the moment it features a small pond made from a large pot that we bought about 13 years ago.
This is our backyard. It’s part kitchen garden, part sensory garden with playground equipment, my greenhouse and two garden sheds. There’s a large expanse of lawn on the slope which I tolerate because it is lovely on bare feet and has patches of groundcovers. All non-edible exotics have been removed, apart from the large trees which offer shade and a place for our bird visitors to perch. Feature plants include Lemon Myrtle, Anise Myrtle and lots of edible flowers.
The Permaculture Room
This room includes my wonderful contour banks of fertile soil that is growing edible trees as well as fruit and vegetable crops. The chicken shed is empty right now while we renovate the area to include a fenced off free ranging area to stop the chickens from digging up my plants. The chicken shed is uphill from the garden encouraging their fertile waste to wash into the permaculture garden, while the insects that visit the garden should visit the chickens too making a tasty nutritious snack for them. My compost bins and manure pile are also in this room.
The Wild Woods
This room is my bush rehabilitation area. Every so often I go through and remove any invasive pest plants that I can find. I identify the new plants that have grown and expand my knowledge of what the bush “should look like”. A seasonal creek, fed by upstream dams runs through this area to our dam. The gully is gradually filling with dry rainforest plants, some planted by me and some that have appeared as if by magic. When we moved to the property, our neighbour’s grazing animals were using our property. Since we fenced them out, it’s amazing how the bush has changed with all the new plants appearing.
The Natural Gully
This room is also a bush rehabilitation area but it is slightly different to the upstream area. It is mostly populated by She-oaks (Allocasaurina) and Grass Trees. We are extremely fortunate to have some very large Grass Trees, one of which at least is sure to be more than 100 years old. Another joy in this area is the native Slender Hyacinth Orchid which can only be found in the wild. We only see it once a year, but it’s a lovely surprise on the forest floor. I have planted some Silky Oaks (Grevillea robusta) in this room as they were once common in this area.
This is the area between our backyard and the dam. Eventually I hope to make this a wildflower meadow, but the soil needs more rehabilitation before that can be attempted. I have planted some endangered shrubs here and it marks the beginning of the Bush Tucker Grove.
Bush Tucker Grove
This area has been planted with Native Bush Tucker trees. Bordered by the Wild Woods, the Sunroom and the Playroom, I hope it will eventually bring lots of birds to overflow into the other areas. This spot was hit hard during the drought and we lost four Macadamia seedlings, but it is recovering well this season with the remaining Plum Pines, Umbrella Cheese Tree and Native Mulberry amongst others putting on some sturdy growth.
This area is a wide expanse of soft green grass, tended by my partner and loved by the local ducks. This is where we set up the telescope to view events like Lunar Eclipses.
This area is long and narrow, along our boundary with a driveway for a battleaxe block. I am in the process of planting a long edible hedge and some vines to make our house less visible from the road. The plants that I have chosen will hopefully entice the smaller birds to visit too.
The Roundabout Room
This is part of our driveway and is reminiscent of a roundabout. The large Spotted Gums and Ironbarks make this garden a challenge, but it’s slowly developing into a lovely feature. It has a large (to my mind ugly) succulent facing the front gate that I would love to get rid of, but as my partner says, at least it’s growing and drought tolerant. Perhaps I’ll remove it when the other plants get bigger.
Thanks for joining me on this stroll through the garden rooms,
Jane Grows Garden Rooms