I recently had the privilege of standing on a mountain (I use the term loosely as the summit is 129m!) and looking out to the horizon in all directions and seeing only native vegetation.

Most ‘urbanites’ and I include all of us who depend on towns for daily existence rarely get away from buildings and bitumen roads in our normal routines. Even though my travelling companions had grown up in lush sub tropical areas they too were quite blown away by the sheer vastness of this sort of panorama.

I hear you pondering what sort of vegetation could this possibly be? No less than our own local mallee around one hours drive from the southern edge of the Riverland. Massed flowers were hidden from our mountain top view, but during our travels, Baeckea, Hibbertia, Glischrocaryon and many others (and many more to come this spring) revealed themselves in spectacular massed displays.

I can appreciate meticulously groomed gardens. I also know that left alone for a few weeks they really start to look like they need urgent need of maintenance. The pinnacle of gardening in my humble opinion is to make it look like it actually looks after itself. This could explain why I find vistas of untouched wilderness supporting healthy indigenousness vegetation so breathtaking. A moderate sized ‘traditional’ garden literally needs constant up keep. To see a gorgeous ‘garden’ in full bloom stretching to the horizon and largely looking after itself is quite a privilege that so few of us really experience. I reckon Australia has more truly wild places than almost anywhere else on earth. Some of this is right on our doorstep.

When are we going to start using these local species in our public and domestic landscapes as a matter of course to truly reflect the beauty of our own area? I’m talking about really useful plants when used in large areas in large numbers. These are just as striking as any other plants you may care to name.

When our local plants are used to good effect, the effect is astounding. The Mill Corner (straight?) project in Loxton is worth a look for any half interested gardener. Comments I have heard from visitors to the Riverland has encouraged me to keep recommending local species for unusual places for fantastic results. We have our own grassy type plants, ground covers, small shrubs and so on. There are local species for almost any given local situation. The resulting planting has its own special local feel about it.

Buy local? How about PLANT LOCAL!

This article first published in the Riverland Weekly © September 16, 2010.