I found Corinne after she commented on this blog and I’m so glad I did. Corinne’s another Australian gardener and runs a nursery in South Australia (the state to my right) where she sells mainly Australian natives. Plants like eromophilla’s, correas, grevilleas and banksia’s abound on her blog at Mallee Native Plants Nursery.

When did you start gardening as a hobby?

Initially gardening was something I did to keep the grounds of our home tidy when we were first married. My father was a great vegetable grower as was my husband’s mother. Gardening became something I did to unwind and relax and provide for the kitchen. Later the interest changed to propagating plants to grow. I found that I got great pleasure from doing this and then seeing the results growing in the garden. This then became my hobby/lifestyle.

Why did you start blogging about your garden/ gardening topics?

My son is an IT Wizz and is very much into blogging. He could see the potential in blogs and encouraged me to begin a blog on what I know a lot about, which is Australian Native Plants. I began this in a tentative way knowing how I wanted it to turn out but not actually sure that I could do it. I wanted my blog to be a diary of sorts, chatty and casual, giving useful and helpful information, and conveying my enthusiasm for the unique native plants in our country.

What’s the best gardening tip you picked up along the way?

The best and most useful tip I learnt from listening to others, reading and experience is the importance of good drainage for plants. This single factor will enable plants of many kinds to grow in otherwise inhospitable locations. Even the provision of a mound with as little as an extra 10cm of height compared to the surrounding soil will be enough to be effective. I have heard that this will also counteract the effects of high alkalinity (high soil pH) when trying to grow plants that resent too much lime in the soil, like many Grevilleas. I have yet to prove this but it is certainly worth trying the idea.

Adding gypsum to heavy clay soils, as well as compost and other organic material will help to break up the clay particles and improve drainage. People who have clay soils are much to be envied because of the fertility and moisture holding capacity of these soils. (Especially compared to the non wetting mallee soils and sand dunes I have dealt with over the years.

If you had to start your garden again from scratch, what would be the first thing you would do and why?

I would not make assumptions about the pH of the soil! I would take greater notice of the makeup of the soil and its characteristics and make the improvements and changes before I begin planting. It is a little tricky to try to correct the soil after the plants have been growing for some time.

If you were only allowed to have one plant in your garden, what would it be?

Only one? Can that be one group of plants? I feel as though I should be practical and have something useful like a vegetable or fruit or herb. However I read this saying once and sometimes let it be a guide to decision making like this…

If of thy mortal good thou art bereft
And of thy slender store two loaves alone to thee are left,
Sell one, and with the dole
Buy hyacinths to feed thy soul …
(Persian Proverb)

So I would have members of the Correa family. These are Australian native plants with tubular flowers in varying shades from white, ivory, cream, lemon, yellow, gold, orange, tangerine, yellow/green, lime green, many shades of pink and red and with combinations of some of these colours. The foliage has a fruity fragrance when crushed. There is bound to be one in flower at any given time of the year. They are, in general, lime, frost and drought tolerant. And nectar feeding birds love them. I have a hobby within a hobby and that is collecting Correas.

What will your garden look like in 10 years time?

I will have a new Plant Sales area with large pots of flowering plants, exchanged with others as they finish flowering. I would have my display garden weed free and looking like it has been there forever, complete with garden seating and a pond with a solar operated pump creating a gentle flow of water like one finds in the creek beds of the Flinders Ranges. My hedges of Westringea (Native Rosemary) will be well filled out and creating the ‘garden rooms’ that I want to have. I would have small rain fall catchment areas diverting water to the surrounding plants. My little grotto in the Eucalypt planting will have its seat and small table so that we can escape the house and have a cup of tea surrounded by shrubs and the many birds that live on and visit our place.