They have been around for a very long time – Leonardo da Vinci used them – and now gabion walls are finding a new place in garden settings. They’re essentially composed of wire cages or gabions (from the Italian gabbione, meaning ‘big cage’), that are filled with a random selection of rocks and stones. Originally used as foundations or to stop erosion, gabion walls are now being employed by garden designers in situations where a natural-looking but robust structure is needed. The metal cages can be purchased (in units that lock together to form the wall) or else a smart handyperson could make them using wire mesh and posts. While rocks or large pebbles are the usual infill material, you could
also use logs or even old bottles for a different effect.
PLANT NOWFlowersAll zones:
Seedlings of alyssum, begonia, celosia, cosmos, marigold, petunia, portulaca, salvia, verbena and zinnia.Zones 2-5:
Seedlings or seeds of ageratum, carnation, chrysanthemum, dahlia, impatiens, lobelia, nasturtium, snapdragon, sunflower and vinca.
Zones 6-8: Seedlings or seeds of amaranthus, cleome, gomphrena and nicotiana.VegetablesAll zones:
Seedlings of beetroot and lettuce.Zones 2-5:
Seedlings or seeds of beans, broccoli, cabbage, leek, marrow, peas, radish, rhubarb, spinach and sweet corn.
Zones 6-8: Seedlings of capsicum, cucumber, eggplant, okra, pumpkin, shallots, silverbeet, squash, tomato and zucchini. Seeds of beans, carrot, choko, radish and sweet corn.
- Buy and plant deciduous fruit trees, such as peaches, plums, apricots and apples. Bare-rooted trees are usually cheaper to buy and are planted in the same way as bare-rooted roses (you’ll find planting instructions on the label). Give them a spot in full sun and, if you’re short of space, look for dwarf varieties which you can grow in large tubs.
- Freshen up bare bed space or fill a few pots with pretty Diascia ‘Little Dancer’, ‘Whisper Apricot’ or ‘Whisper Cranberry Red’. Or go native and plant Brachyscome ‘Pacific Reef’ which bears bright pink flowers.
- Celebrate National Tree Day on Sunday 2 August by planting a native tree species which is indigenous to your local area. Tiny tube-stock plants are the cheapest option and are quick to establish. For extra details on the event and how to get involved, visit
- Prune roses now while they’re still bare of leaves. Using sharp clean secateurs, remove dead branches first, then shorten back all the healthy canes by about a third to a half. Make the cuts on a 45-degree angle, just above an outward-facing bud. Prune banksias, roses and other spring-flowering climbers after they’ve flowered, in late spring.
- Looking for a splash of vibrant colour right now? Pot up a few zygocactus for their showy blooms in shades of pink and orange. They prefer filtered sunlight (or just morning sun) and grow well in hanging baskets.
- Adopt a few organic methods of pest control in your garden, and reduce your reliance on chemicals. Throw a piece of fine mesh over vegie crops to reduce whitefly attack; hang pieces of yellow cardboard smeared with Vaseline near plants attacked by thrips, aphids or whiteflies, as homemade traps; make up a vinegar spray to deter sap-sucking insects by mixing 1 part white vinegar to 3 parts water; remove weeds to prevent them playing host to insect pests; and keep your plants well fed, as healthy plants have the strongest defences against pest or disease attack.
- After a fruit crop with a difference? Plant a pomegranate. Native to the Middle East, these extremely tough shrubs grow to about 4m, and are both drought and frost tolerant. The large decorative fruit ripen by late autumn.