I have long advised customers to use drought tolerant, frost hardy and long living plants to form the framework of a garden. This is especially applicable to gardeners working with ‘blank canvases’ or even for older gardens having a major makeover.

Part of a frame work could include screens for privacy or hiding utility areas. Most men like an area somewhere to deposit treasures for later possible use. These usually look better not seen! Other parts of a frame work would include shelter from our sometimes savage south west winds bringing a change in weather. Also shade is an important element of any garden in the Riverland and Mallee. It is these parts of a garden that truly makes a garden a pleasant place to be.

The following are some good basic tough plants that require virtually no maintenance while still providing a vital role in the garden.

For screening plants Acacia iteaphylla Flinders Range wattle is hard to beat. Growing to 3-4m it has grey green leaves and wattle yellow flowers during autumn and winter. Atriplex nummularia old man salt bush is another bullet proof plant to 2-3m and grows almost anywhere. Many of the Callistemon or bottlebrushes do very well at screening provided they receive at least some watering. Grevillea olivacea olive leaved Grevillea grows to 2-3m and has red, orange and yellow flowering forms but does need reasonable drainage.

Acacia salicina, Eucalyptus leucoxylon megalocarpa and Eucalyptus salubris are all great shade and shelter trees that grow to around 10m. There are of course plenty of others to choose from, but the message is simple; plant large trees and shrubs for the long term, that won’t break your budget keeping them healthy.

This article first published in the Riverland Weekly © November 8, 2012.