Flowering Eremophilia Nivea "Emu Bush"

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I couldn’t resist photographing our Eremophilia Nivea “Emu Bush” as it was flowering a couple of weeks ago. This plant is native to Western Australia and it thrives in our dry conditions. According to Australian Native Plant Society Eremophila is from the Greek words eremos and phileo, meaning desert and love respectively, or “desert loving” referring to the habitat of many of the species. Nivea is from the Latin word niveus, meaning snow white, obviously referring to the beautiful velvety silver foliage.

Delicate purple flowers appear from late winter to early summer. Ours could do with a bit more of a prune; it is in a windy spot and the branches are growing a bit wild, so pruning will help it to bush up and get a bit denser. I think because they grow quite fast the roots can be quite shallow and so they can be affected by strong winds or heavy rain, so keeping it well pruned with a dense habit will assist it to survive the conditions. The contrast against the Grevillea Olivacea behind is delicious.

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We went on a local tour of Hilton gardens the other weekend and by accident we ended up walking past our garden so the group insisted we stop and have a look at it. One of members made the comment of our colour palette… soft blues and silvery tones are prominent, both the front and back. I hadn’t actually realised this before but now it is pretty obvious. Its funny how a fresh set of eyes can make you see things you hadn’t noticed before. I love the softness and contrast of this colour palette against the greenery. You can’t go wrong in my opinion. Maybe I’ll do a post soon of silver native plants for the garden.

An intro to our garden

So I’ve been wanting to share some of my gardening journey over the past couple of years. I haven’t really known where to start so I’m going to just jump right in with some background.

We bought our house in October 2016 and at the time our garden was a clean slate - freshly mulched ankle deep (to cover the sand, weeds, and grass as we would later find out…) with a few native seedlings planted here and there, ready to sell the property.

 Our house when we bought it - lots of mulch, beautiful Asbestos fencing, some random seedlings around the place and lots of shrubbery against the exterior (which we pulled out almost immediately to access the stumps)

Our house when we bought it - lots of mulch, beautiful Asbestos fencing, some random seedlings around the place and lots of shrubbery against the exterior (which we pulled out almost immediately to access the stumps)

 Our back yard and patio - lots of mulch and limestone

Our back yard and patio - lots of mulch and limestone

One of the reasons Hilton was so appealing to us was because of all of the nature, wide verges and rambling gardens surrounding the gorgeous weatherboard cottages; it is known as the ‘garden suburb’ after all. It appealed to our desire for space and my husband’s country upbringing, whilst staying close to Fremantle. We loved that we had a corner block with both a front and back yard. We always intended to landscape the garden but it certainly wasn’t a priority in the beginning. However, as the internal renovations started to get quite extensive, I found myself looking outside for a bit of a break, some quiet time and an opportunity to get my hands dirty with my own project.

Before buying our house I didn’t have any interest in gardening. I was working as a florist and that was how my interest in natives started to develop. Perhaps moments from my childhood had lasting impressions; I grew up in the hills of Perth on a one acre property, surrounded by bushland and native plants. My parents would spend many hours on the weekend maintaining the property, although I was never interested in helping out and when I was forced to it was such a bore! Likewise I remember many walks through my grandparent’s beautifully manicured cottage garden, going on little tours as each plant and flower was described to us. It is funny to think that now, many years later I have discovered my own love of gardening after a childhood abundant with nature that I never appreciated.

So I’ll be sharing some of my journey as a complete novice gardener as we have slowly started to transform our bare block, whilst also examining particular species we are planting. I remember the first time I started planting it was in the absolute heat of January in Perth and I was so shocked that some died (!). I have learnt so much in only two years, which is exciting and encouraging and motivating to keep on at it. It is an ongoing lesson in patience, persistence, trial and error.

Below I’ve compiled some photos I’ve found on Pinterest that have influenced what we are hoping to achieve in our own space. Perhaps ‘neat & native’ is a good way to describe it; something that looks a bit wild but is well kept and organised on closer inspection. We are planting 99.9% Australian native species.

So stay tuned as next I’ll be sharing some ‘after’ photos, and by after i mean 18 months a work in progress (and by no means completed!!)

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