Southern Downs gardeners set example in changing climate
NATIVE plant enthusiasts from all around Queensland have taken a leaf out of the book of Southern Downs gardeners as they prepare to face a changing climate.
One of the sunshine state's most successful landscape architects said the Southern Downs set an example of how to grow prolific native gardens in spite of drought.
Lawrie Smith has been involved in the design and planting of some of Queensland's most renowned gardens such as the Southbank and Roma Street parklands in Brisbane.
But he said the cities would soon be forced to change their planting habits as the climate changes and water becomes an increasingly scare resource.
"Gardeners in Brisbane are having to adapt," he said.
"They are used to pouring litres of water into gardens just to keep plants alive, exotica and natives."
Mr Smith was one of around 40 Native Plants Queensland members who visited the Southern Downs for a biannual conference last weekend.
Over three days, the group visited private gardens in Junabee and Warwick as well as other vegetation areas around the region.
NPQ president Bob Bannon said there was an amazing variety of native plants and vegetation types in the district.
"We have gone from a drought area to Queen Mary Falls to see rainforest and there is a really great diversity of gardens," Mr Bannon said.
He said it was an eye-opening experience for green thumbs from other parts of the state.
But for Mr Smith, the message to take home was all about learning to adapt.
"We have to learn that it is all about designing with nature and living with natives and these guys have done that really well, they have adapted really well," he said.
Admiring Betty Armbruster's garden in Junabee, Mr Smith pointed to what could be achieved despite the dry conditions.
"This garden, you can see how green and lush and colourful it is, which comes down to choosing the right plants for the right conditions," he said.
Mr Smith hopes natives would play a more prominent role as gardeners adapted to the new climate.
"People are slowly becoming aware they have to change their gardens and conserve water," he said.
"But what worries me is that if you look around Brisbane in most of the urban areas people are planting cacti and non-natives but forget we have most beautiful drought resistant natives."
Visitors paid particular interest to plants of the eremophila genus, which is known for its drought-resistant properties.
Mrs Armbruster, whose Junabee garden was filled with the sound of birds, said planting natives was as much about conserving native wildlif as it was native plants.