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Michael Mobbs Front Garden - in a nutshell

Lady Palm, Rhapis excelsa. Slow growing palm, grown worldwide, especially as
a potted plant, but originating in southern China. Relatively drought
resistent. Chinese medicinal uses: leaf stalk, bark and fruits to stop
bleeding. Roots: to stimulate blood circulation and rheumatism. Used as an
architectural feature and as a threshhold planting by the front door.

Cardamom, Elettaria cardamomum. Slow growing perennial, grown widely in
warm-temperate to tropical gardens. Relatively drought resistent. Pods are
the commercial source of cardamom and the leaves may be wrapped around white
fish before cooking to impart their flavour. Flowers, if produced, may be
used in salads. Rarely flowers or fruits in Sydney. Chinese medicinal uses:
seeds for stimulating gastric activity, increase menstrual flow and to treat
premature ejaculation, the treat the involuntary discharge of urine and to
treat pain in the stomach. Rhizomes are used as a laxative. Used as a
clumping Œaccent¹ plant, to provide useful foliage for cookery. Prunings can
be easily composted.

Flax Lily, Dianella caerulea. Aborigines used the tough leaves to weave
dillies and baskets. Although it is not recorded that the purple/blue
berries were eaten, they are edible and although the flavour can be variable
it is not unpleasant. Relatively drought resistent. Planted to provide
Œvolume¹, decorative flowers, edible fruits and so that its foliage provides
a colour contrast with other plants.

Mondo Grass, Dwarf Lilyturf, Ophiopogon japonicus. A rhizomatous perennial,
widely grown in warm-temperate climates and commonly used as a border edge.
Originates from Japan and Korea. Relatively drought resistent. Chinese
medicinal uses: Roots for cooling the body, as a general tonic, purgative,
thirst quencher, to treat sore throats, coughs and fevers. Planted to
provide a neat border, to prevent stormwater from washing away soil from the
garden bed and to retain fallen leaves while they decompose.

Star Jasmine, Trachelospermum jasminoides. An evergreen twining climber
widely grown in warm temperate climates for its scented flowers and its
utility as an easily trained climber. Originates from southern China.
Flowers may cause an allergic reaction in some people and the milky sap may
cause skin irritation, so wear gloves when pruning. Chinese medicinal uses:
stem and leaves are used as a general tonic, as a pain killer, to increase
menstrual flow, to treat sore throats, arthritis and rheumatism.

The modern domestic landscaper is usually required to create an instant effect to help sell a home 'off the plan'. These 'disposable' gardens usually look good for a year or so until the spatial and horticultural needs of living and competing plants reveal their shortcomings.

I try to engineer gardens so that common gardening problems don't occur, I also supply instruction 'manuals' for any new garden.

Organic gardens can be neat, tidy AND non-threatening! They suffer from the misconception that, whilst 'worthy', they require skill, effort and a liberal dash of arcane knowledge to maintain. Michael wanted a garden that is sustainable and a home that looks normal.

Australian and exotic edible, medicinal and functional plants together blend with the architecture of the house, the streetscape and collectively offer a sense of welcome to visitors.

The plants have been chosen to build the confidence of an amateur gardener.
Because these plants are suited to the site conditions, and are highly unlikely to suffer from pests or diseases, they eliminate the traditional 'triggers' that encourage the resort to pesticides or artificial fertilisers to 'correct' the problem. They were also chosen to match the amount of leisure time and horticultural skill available. The display should look full and mature after one year.

All plants are commercially and locally available, but acquiring them was the least sustainable aspect of the project. The most economical nursery suppliers are way out on the fringes of suburban Sydney, where land and rates are cheaper. It took more than five times longer to find them, buy them and get them home than it did to plant and water them in!

Jerry Coleby-Williams Dip. Hort (Kew), RHS, MAIH.



Jerry very kindly designed and then contributed the front garden. This is an example of how a difficult, south-facing, inner city house site may be productively brightened up.


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email: info@sustainablehouse.com.au
tel: +61 2 9310 2930 fax: +61 2 9475 0613
street: 58 Myrtle St Chippendale NSW 2008 Australia

©2007 Michael Mobbs ABN 80 571 933 970
Last Modified 12 Aug 2007