We all have our reasons for growing native plants in our gardens. For some it’s a way of staying in touch with nature by attracting birds, butterflies and other little creatures close to our homes. For others it’s to create a garden coherent with the local climate or purely for aesthetic reasons, to make their home look great. Gardening for you may simply be a way to relax and pass the time, but whatever the reason, you’re most likely not doing it for praise or monetary rewards for your efforts. However, wouldn’t it be nice to get both?
This year, between July 28 and August 4, judging will take place for the 2008 Cairns Regional Garden Awards. One of the many categories you can enter is a category specifically for native gardens. A common misconception is that in order to enter the native garden category your entire garden must contain native plants exclusively, nothing exotic. Actually your garden just needs to be predominantly made up of native Australian plants, or as the entry criteria says (as a ball park figure) at least 80% of the plants should be native. Thus your rose patch, your exotic fruit trees or anything non-native won’t exclude you. In our part of Australia a native garden can include quite a variety of styles, anything from a tropical resort style garden dominated by gingers and palms, to a more stereotypical bush garden of grasstrees and gumtrees. Even cottage gardens can be created using predominantly native plants.
First prize for the best native garden will be sponsored by Yuruga Native Plant Nursery and in addition to this, Yuruga will also reward each entrant in the native garden category with a voucher for a free 140mm pot plant of their choice just to say thank you for growing natives. Close of entries is July 25 so there is still time for some finishing touches – another layer of mulch, a prune, and some good deep watering so that everything will look as lush and vibrant as possible.
If you would like to see how your garden stacks up against other Cairns gardens, pick up an entry form from your local nursery or library. I wish you good luck.
(Published in Cairns City Life magazine, June 2008)