The latest in native garden trends

How you can incorporate them into your next garden upgrade

By Isabelle Harris

Whether you’re looking to update your garden to changing tastes or environments, looking into diversifying your plant mix, or even starting over from scratch, natives are great way to make your garden stand out from the crowd.

Even better, using indigenous or local plants and natives are great ways to preserve your area’s natural biodiversity and stick with your local landscape, as well as being a trendy way to update your landscape.

We spoke to some of the Mornington Peninsula’s top landscapers and plant nurseries to find out how you can incorporate the latest native plant trends into your garden.

Low Maintenance Gardens

While natives have long been touted as a kind of “set and forget” solution, this is only partially true.

Clive Abben of Abben Art Garden Design says it is more important to select plants based on conditions to make sure the garden is as low maintenance as possible.

In his own work, he always selects plants that are indigenous to the area to ensure they will thrive in the soil and weather conditions.

“Walk around your local area and if you see a plant you like, take a photo”, he says, “then show it to a local nursery to see if it would work in your garden.”

As a bonus, indigenous and natives often require less general maintenance than non-natives. Most don’t require pruning, aren’t deciduous, and often are drought resistant depending on the variety.

Drew Cooper, a partner at Peninsula Plants and Edible Gardens, says that, most of the time, it comes down to using local plants where possible and designing the garden well.

“If you plant the right plant in the right spot, you don’t really have to do anything to them“ he says.

Make sure to get advice from your local nursery to make everything is as low maintenance as possible to ensure you get the most enjoyment out of your garden!


Rather than having a traditional veggie patch some gardeners are turning to “foodscaping”, or planting edible plants amongst ornamental aspects.

“There are plenty of native herbs that can make great additions to both your cooking and your garden”, Glen Yearsley of Austplant Native Plant Nursery says.

“Lemon myrtle is a must have, I use it as a substitute for lemongrass” he adds.

Finger limes are also a popular choice that has become more popular in the culinary world, but are now making their way into home kitchens. Herbs like native river mint and native thyme are perfect to use as a replacement for the non-native variety as well.

When it comes to planting the garden, it’s important to consider placement, shading, and sunlight.

Instead of picking a plant and then forcing it into a position in your garden, look at where you might want to plant an edible, then select one based on conditions.

Remember, this may not always be an indigenous or native plant but instead a non-native which can work, even in what is essentially a native plant garden.

For a fun idea, why not place your native herbs near the back door or barbeque for easy access during cooking?

Outdoor Entertainment

A resurgence of home cooking and outdoor entertaining means more people are considering how to use their garden, not just as a place to relax, but also to entertain.

Some are combining this with concrete and stone textures to add “walls” or structure to an otherwise free flowing garden, or using retaining walls to delineate an entertaining space around a barbeque or patio.

Contrasting structural aspects like round rocks with round pruned shrubs like cushion bush (leucophyta brownii) or banksia honeypots (Banksia spinulosa) with strappy leafed plants is one of Clive Abben’s favourite ways to do this.

Pair this with Nordic-inspired or minimalist outdoor furniture in neutral or solid colours to allow your garden to be the life of the party!

Concrete and stone mixed with a variety of plant textures

Texture is an important part of any well-designed garden and given the huge variety of leaf textures, sizes, and colours, why wouldn’t you use native plants?

Glen Yearsley says texture is not always about having a lot of colour and flower in a garden.

“Its about different plant textures and foliage colours,” he says, “although the other benefit of native plants is that there is often a variety of colour throughout the year, which is not often the case in non-native gardens.”

He also advises to include repetition in colour and plant texture throughout your garden in order to create flow and make each area of the garden seamlessly meld with the next.

Clive Abben also says that texture is important, especially as part of an informal garden.

“It’s actually harder to get an informal garden done well than a formal garden” he says.

Still spoiled for choice or a little bit stuck?

There’s certainly a lot to consider when planting out or incorporating more natives into your garden, but have no fear!

Start off by consulting your local nursery or landscape designer, preferably one well versed in natives, to get the bones of your garden right the first time and avoid headaches down the road.

The Mornington Peninsula Shire website has guides for indigenous plants and revegetation by region, complete with maps and planting guides.(see below)

Come with photos or inspiration of what you might like to include and some information about your area and soil type, if you can. The golden rule is to first try plants indigenous to the area, then natives, then non-natives if you have to.

Finally, have fun designing and planting your new garden! It will surely become a wonderful place to relax and entertain in years to come, as well as contributing to the natural and beautiful Mornington Peninsula landscape!

Images courtesy of

Peninsula Essence, Your Garden & Home Feature – October 2020