A monarch butterfly (danaus plexippus) feeds on butterfly bush (buddleia) flowers.
A monarch butterfly (danaus plexippus) feeds on butterfly bush (buddleia) flowers. leekris

Choosing the right plants for your garden

SPRING is officially here and it's impossible to resist the lure of the garden.

Springtime is all about colour and fragrance. Jasmine, citrus blossom, lavender, daisies, azaleas, pansies and violas, geraniums - it's pretty hard to find something that is not flowering in a garden centre at the moment.

My picks for this spring include some new arrivals and some old favourites. Geranium Big Red and Rocky White have been around for a couple of years and have proven themselves to be disease resistant, free-flowering and easy to care for.

If lavender is your thing, then take a look at the Sensation series which has lovely green foliage and strong, upright flower stalks. The fragrance is fresh and clean, and you can get it in four colours - white, rose, blue and purple.

The Ruffles series has slightly greyer foliage and is a bit shorter and more compact. It, too, comes in a few different colours. Avonview is a good performer, as is old-fashioned french lavender (lavender dentata). They all enjoy the same growing conditions, essentially a well-drained, airy, sunny position.

Tibouchina Peace Baby is hard to beat for a small, free-flowering shrub to about 60-80cm tall with large white blooms. "Buzz'' buddleias are just gorgeous, and butterflies find their masses of tiny flowers irresistible. They will grow about one metre tall.

And then there's all the gorgeous native plants, which also celebrate spring in a riot of colour. The leptospermums are putting on an absolutely spectacular show this year. And there are some gorgeous kangaroo paw, grevilleas and native daisies about too.

Don't be afraid to mix natives with exotics. So long as they enjoy similar growing conditions, they can live quite happily together. Both natives and exotics can be useful food sources for birds, bees and other native fauna.

We have lots of bacopa (a flowering groundcover) in the garden centre at the moment and the little native bees just love it. Honey eaters are visiting the flowering abutilons (chinese lanterns) on a daily basis and the lavender is full of bees too.

Try to provide some clean drinking water for birds and other fauna to encourage them to pay regular visits to your place. You could even consider installing nesting boxes for birds and insect hotels for beneficial insects.

Got a gardening question? Email maree@edenatbyron.com.au.