Yalamurra, a “garden of survivors” in South Australia offers Texas inspiration

January 14, 2021

Yalamurra garden, the creation of Australian gardener Kurt Wilkinson. Photo by Kurt Wilkinson.

Want to know what’s inspiring me this week? It’s the South Australian garden of Kurt Wilkinson, a professional gardener and topiarist in the Adelaide area. Kurt’s work came to my attention via a Danger Garden post about Gardening Australia, a TV show from Down Under with episodes viewable online. The “Yalamurra” episode about Kurt’s garden caught Danger’s eye, and boy, did it grab mine as well.

The first thing that struck me about Kurt’s garden is a feeling of sympathy with our own Texas Hill Country landscape. Hilly, rocky, scrubby, and hot, his property northeast of Adelaide presented him, he says, with the necessity of ditching familiar garden plants and experimenting with tough natives and roadside weeds to see what would live. Sound familiar, my fellow Texans?

The second thing that struck me is his use of clipped topiary to add structure and punctuation amid airier, dry-loving plants that grow in a meadowy matrix with native grasses.

Here in central Texas, with our sauna-like but drought-prone summers — unlike Kurt’s dry Mediterranean summers — we can’t always successfully grow the fabulous maroon

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