3 min read | by Janet Russell, Updated August 2, 2019
Growing West Australian species in Canberra
I would like to encourage people to experiment with growing native plants. It’s less heart-stopping if your plant fails when you have chosen a cheap source of plants such as tube stock. We have been surprised by plants that have done well against all our expectations. On the other hand, we have been very disappointed with other plants that we would have expected to do well but have performed poorly. There are many websites which provide helpful advice with particular species and it’s worth seeking them out.
Our balcony garden is subject to punishing sun in the summer and periodic wild winds the year round, more commonly in the afternoon. We have had a Vergola installed (Vergola is a brand name) which has eight sets of louvres and that allows us to reduce the power of the overhead sun or to slightly moderate the strength of the wind. The structure of balconies, often with three sides, creates something of a maelstrom when the wind blows. On days of high winds detritus such as spent leaves are blown in a whirl from the east end of the balcony to the west. Fortunately, this keeps the view from our east living area looking neat and tidy.
At the moment, we have three of the Western Australian Lechenaultia species flowering They are Lechenaultia biloba (blue) and two forms of Lechenaultia formosa, one golden yellow and one red. The red plant has only just started to flower. It is a pleasure to see such colour in the heart of winter.
Each garden, courtyard or balcony creates its own micro-climate or series of micro-climates and if one position is not suitable for a plant another may be. Since we started gardening on the balcony, there is one unexpected thing that I have learned. During hot dry weather we sometimes closed all the louvres for days. Because of the south westerly aspect some plants enjoyed the late afternoon sun, but others did not see the sun at all. It seems that bright light was sufficient to keep the plants looking healthy. There are benefits to living in an arid climate.