Mail­box Your let­ters, pho­tos, ques­tions

Ann Pur­cell, Et­ta­long, NSW

Gardening Australia - - CONTENTS -

DERYN THORPE SAYS There are a num­ber of good turf al­ter­na­tives you could con­sider for this sit­u­a­tion. Creep­ing boobialla (My­opo­rum parv­i­folium, above right) is an ex­tremely tough na­tive plant that copes well with hot, dry, ex­posed con­di­tions. A low, dense spreader that sup­presses weeds, it fea­tures very fine, green leaves (there is also a pur­ple-leafed form) and white or pink flow­ers that are at­trac­tive to birds and but­ter­flies.

Equally tough in dry, sandy soils is Ere­mophila glabra ‘Rose­wor­thy’, with its small bright-green leaves and pretty or­ange-red blooms that the birds love. ‘Blue Hori­zon’ is an­other low-grow­ing, dense form of E. glabra and fea­tures at­trac­tive blue-green fo­liage with yel­low tubu­lar blooms in win­ter. There are a few pros­trate gre­vil­leas worth con­sid­er­ing, and Gre­vil­lea ‘Poorinda Royal Man­tle’ (above left) is prob­a­bly the best of these. It’s a very dense ground­cover with at­trac­tive toothed leaves, cop­pery-red new growth and red tooth­brush flow­ers in spring. Adenan­thos cunea­tus ‘Coral Car­pet’ is an­other na­tive to check out. Its fo­liage is beau­ti­fully tex­tured, and is rem­i­nis­cent of coral. The new growth starts out red and then fades to green along the many stems, cre­at­ing a re­mark­ably colour­ful ef­fect.

Do keep in mind, while these spread­ing al­ter­na­tives are drought-hardy and pretty, they grow a lit­tle taller than your av­er­age strip of mown grass and only take min­i­mal foot traf­fic. Good old turf is al­ways the most re­li­able plant choice where peo­ple need to walk reg­u­larly, or, for a no-mow­ing op­tion, you could cre­ate a per­ma­nent path­way of pavers or large step­ping pads and sur­round them with one or more of the ground­cov­ers sug­gested.

Also, while many coun­cils are happy to have lawn sub­sti­tutes on verges, most have reg­u­la­tions con­cern­ing the height of plants, and ad­e­quate and safe ac­cess for pedes­tri­ans, so fol­low this up with your lo­cal coun­cil be­fore mak­ing any de­ci­sions.

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