Expert Tips

Design Direction

Award-winning landscape architect, author and arguably this country’s foremost native garden designer, Paul Thompson, shares his tips for starting a native garden in your own backyard…

Paul Thompson is renowned for his work with colleagues Taylor Cullity Lethlean for the Australian Garden at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Cranbourne and the Forest Gallery at the Melbourne Museum.

While these gardens are grand in size and stature, Thompson believes the same approach applies no matter what the scale or whether you’re using native plants.

“The principles are the same universal principles for organising and designing gardens anywhere in the world. The difference with what I do is that I only use Australian Flora,” shares Paul Thompson.

In his book Australian Planting Design, he expertly guides the reader through all the stages of designing a native garden – from understanding space, light, earth form, structures and vegetation to how to use plants to create interesting and purposeful areas for both people and nature.

For now, Thompson shares with Native Plant Project his top tips for people wishing to start a native garden in their own backyard:

~ Research as much as possible by looking at plants growing in situ, find out about the ones you respond to most, then determine what suits your space

~ Structure your garden with durable species that you like and that look harmonious in your own space

~ Add to the framework with species that may offer some pizzazz

Australian native path grasses

~ Allocate some space for ephemeral and quick growing species

~ Choose plants that respond to the amount of care you will commit to

~ Select species that will be attractive to all forms of wildlife, including: insects, bugs, moths, butterflies, spiders, birds, lizards and so forth.