Meet Luke, Perth NRM’s Senior Manager Environment, and explore his Morley ReWild garden. #PeopleofReWild
Luke is part of the ReWild Perth team and co-created the program to support communities in the creation of beautiful and wildlife-friendly gardens!
When and why did you start to ReWild your garden?
We started about 20 years ago and wanted to create a place that really felt at home in suburban Perth, and we couldn’t afford to spend money and resources on exotic plants that didn’t belong or thrive here. We love camping so it was only natural to start out with native tubestock. I also don’t really believe in garden ornaments unless they provide some sort of function, so we chose to feature bird baths and bee hotels instead.
What do you love most about your ReWild garden?
It is the best room in the house! It is a very meditative and relaxing space, restful and reviving to the senses. I enjoy its shelter every day. One of the things I love about my ReWild garden is how tenaciously alive it is, even in the depths of summer. I feel very lucky to live in this place, one that gives me a sense of identity and connection to our special part of the world.
What has been the main challenge in establishing a ReWild garden?
Our main challenge has been the water repellent soil, typical of the ‘Bassendean sands’ soil type. Especially in the early days when we were replacing lawn or exotic garden beds, we would struggle to get plants established even when they were local species planted in early winter. Another challenge was ensuring that we were sourcing WA natives and not East Coast or African plants. We used to bring a bunch of reference books nursery shopping with us – I wish we had ReWild back then!
Tell us about your garden’s guests – what wildlife have you seen in your garden, including any new species since you started?
We have so many garden guests! Blue-banded bees, Sacred Kingfisher, Grey Butcherbirds, Elegant Parrot, Australian Ringneck, Banjo Frog (dubbed Mr Bonkers in my family!), Striated Pardalote, Barking Owl, Red Wattlebird, New Holland- Singing- and Brown-honeyeaters, Carnaby’s Black-Cockatoo, Galah, Peregrine Falcon, Marbled Gecko, Willy Wagtail, Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike, Dragonflies, Damsel flies, Butterflies, Cicadas, Bird-poo Spiders(!), Resin Bees, Springboks, Weevils, Crusader Beetles, Praying Mantis, Hover Flies, Ladybirds, Grasshoppers. The list goes on!
What are your top tips for someone starting a ReWild garden?
Perhaps most importantly make a comfortable place for yourself in your garden to sit and enjoy it!
Just like the idea that ‘fashion is temporary and style is permanent’, flowers are temporary but interesting foliage is permanent. Foliage-driven gardens are always interesting, and then the flowers are a bonus. We are spoilt for interesting and contrasting foliage here in WA, as well as prickly foliage which is beautiful as well as protective!
Think of planting as an annual cycle, make visiting a nursery a habit when the rains arrive. Go large and dense at first, then tiny. ‘Chop and drop’ pruning will improve your soil. Hand weed before seeds set. Water deeply every 10 days in first summer, then not at all, unless it’s a damp land or pot garden.
Make unruly gardens neat by using bold, clean geometry for garden bed shapes. Big beds go better – maximise your garden bed size. Be brave, remove exotic plants even if you like them.