How to create a native cottage garden

With over 24,000 plants native to Australia and weather conditions that can be from one extreme to the next, it can be hard to know what will grow in your garden. Firstly, it’s good to know what’s endemic by visiting your local botanic gardens. And secondly, if you’ve only got a smallish garden, then listen to Charlie who has all the tips you need for your cottage garden of Australian natives to survive and thrive.

WATCH: Charlie creates a native cottage garden

Garden designers like Fiona Brockhoff have been pioneers in the industry when it comes to using native plants in the garden. Fiona has inspired others to use natives in their design, to achieve formal/informal arrangements, play with colour, textures and shape.

Are you feeling inspired? Get in contact with your local council, nursery, landscaper or designer to find out what species may be endemic to your area and or what are good species to plant in general.

Here’s how native plants and design can be used in a suburban setting

Brent Wilson

The setting is a beautiful cottage in the heart of Sydney’s inner west. The front of the property is subtle, beautiful and inviting. With sandstock bricks as the bones, corrugated iron roof and a small timber deck front patio, rustic charm comes to mind. 

The driveway with its soft strip of dichondra in the middle leads you up the side of the house towards the back yard. As you hear the soft trickling of the beautiful quirky water feature you start to see the magical native oasis of the backyard. The subtlety of the front yard is not mirrored in the back yard. Your met with plumes of Kangaroo paw, sprawling groundcovers and asymmetrical clouds of different shrubs species.

Brent Wilson

The planting is a beautiful accompaniment to the house and the design of the front yard. Native ground covers hug the edges of the path invitingly, as the other plants fold over each other, creating soft moving waves of textures.

native cottage garden

Brent Wilson

The balance of asymmetrical clouds amassed between wild gnarled plants is beautiful, really giving you, this feel of a native oasis. Its always a party with Banksia ‘birthday candles’ lighting the borders of the garden and mingling between the other shrubs, bring native joy into the garden. The canopy of water gums ‘luscious’ with its mottled bark and fresh waxy lime green leaves continues to add depth, texture and colour to this garden.


Brent Wilson

Once standing on the lawn you really get a sense of being in your own little world surrounded by beautiful planting and a discreet water bowl that continues this feeling of chill and Zen.

Once standing on the lawn you really get a sense of being in your own little world surrounded by beautiful planting and a discreet water bowl that continues this feeling of chill and Zen. REAL ESCAPISM!

Brent Wilson

Charlie’s native cottage garden plant list

Native Trees

  • Tristaniopsis laurina ‘Lucious’
  • Syzigium australe ‘Resilience’

Native Shrubs

  • Doryanthes excelsa
  • Anigozanthos ‘landscape tangerine’
  • Westringia fruticosa Lomandra ‘Lime Tuff’
  • Banksia ‘Stumpy Gold’
  • Grevillea rosmarinifolia

Anigozanthos 'landscape tangerine'

Brent Wilson

Banksia 'Stumpy Gold'

Brent Wilson

Grevillea rosmarinifolia

Brent Wilson

Native Groundcover/Climbers

  • Hibertia scandans
  • Chrysocephalum apiculatum
  • Dichondra repens
  • Carpobrotus rossii

Other Trees

  • Camellia pure silk
  • Lagerstroemia indica ‘Natchez’

Other Shrubs

  • Carissa desert star
  • Rhaphiolepis oriental pearl
  • Helichrysum petiolare
  • Erigeron karvinskianus
  • Buxus japonica
  • Neomarica gracillis
  • Rosmarinus prostratus

Erigeron karvinskianus

Brent Wilson

Other Groundcover

  • Thymus serpyllum ‘pink chintz’

You might also like:

The ultimate guide to Australian native flowers

How to pick Australian native plants for your garden

How to create a bush garden

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