Botanic Gardens Trust, Sydney, Australia

Australian Botanic Garden

Get Smart with Water

Australia is a dry continent. Unreliable rainfall, except in the tropics, is a feature of the environment. The Australian Botanic Garden has created a water-wise demonstration garden that will give you great ideas for creating your very own waterwise garden at home. Take these instructions with you as you drive around the Caley Drive (South Garden) and Cunningham Drive (North Garden) to see plants and trees which thrive in drought conditions.

Begin your tour at the Visitor Centre Carpark. All the plants screening the carpark are drought resistant and only require watering until established. You'll see Acacia, Banksia, Brachyscome, Hardenbergia and a range of Grevillea, Callistemon and Kangaroo Paw Anigozanthos varieties.

Drive out of the Visitor Centre Carpark and continue your tour along Caley Drive (South Garden)

1. Native Conifers and Brigalow

Park at the top of the hill leading to the 'Sundial of Human Involvement' (interactive sculpture) and see native conifers that are very tolerant of drying out once established - Bunya Pine Araucaria bidwillii and Hoop Pine Araucaria cunninghamii.

On the embankment on the right look out for Brigalow Acacia harpophylla. Their distinctive silver foliage indicates that they are adapted to hot dry conditions and are drought tolerant once established.

2. Waterwise Garden (in the Big Idea Garden)

Located next to the amenities at the Big Idea Garden, the Water-wise Garden was developed with the help of Sydney Water during the drought of 2002 to demonstrate sustainable horticultural practices. The Water-wise Garden is planted with a variety of hardy native species and cultivars. Stroll around the Garden and get some great ideas for a colourful water-saving garden you can create at home.

3. Native Cypress Pines

Most species in this group are adapted to dry climates, and will survive with little or no watering in the Sydney region. Look for Black Cypress Pine Callitris endlicheri and Port Jackson Pine Callitris rhomboidea.

waterwise logo

waterwise garden

flannel flowers

4. Kurrajongs, Bottle Trees and Flame Trees

Several species in this group are very well adapted to dry climates - look for Kurrajongs Brachychiton populneus subsp. trilobus and Bottle Trees Brachychiton rupestris and Brachychiton australis. Also notice `water-wise' trees and shrubs from western New South Wales - Hakea Wattle Acacia hakeoides and Angophora melanoxylon.

5. Mallee Eucalypts

Along Cunningham Drive (northern loop) about 500 m further on your right you will see two more stands of trees. Species like these Eucalyptus erythrocorys and Eucalyptus pleurocorys require no extra watering once established.

Mallee eucalypts are an Australian native icon ... watch out for the signpost! These are popular home garden trees because they are small. The trees here are mostly from Western Australia. Look out for the trees with attractive foliage and bark, and colourful and showy flowers - including Eucalyptus caesia subsp. magna, Eucalyptus falcata, Eucalyptus macrandra and Eucalyptus lehmannii.

6. Woodland Picnic Area

Features local wildflowers, the understorey of the endangered Cumberland Plain Woodland community. Look for Indigofera australis, Blackthorn Bursaria spinosa, Sorghum leiocladum, Kangaroo Grass Themeda triandra, Ajuga australis, Scaevola albida and the endangered Pimelea spicata.

If you would like to grow a local species at home, select the 'Annan Star' Rhodanthe anthemoides paper daisy which is propagated at the Australian Botanic Garden and is available from the Botanic Garden Shop in season.

Many waterwise plants are on sale (in season) at the Australian Botanic Garden Shop. Talk to the Shop staff about your gardening needs and they will recommend the right plants for your garden.

Why get smart with water?

kangaroo paws
  • Demands on our nation’s water are increasing and water is becoming more expensive.
  • Building new water storages is very costly and often contentious.
  • Water usage needs to be reduced, or we may not have enough to supply our needs.
  • Less than 1% of the earth’s water is useable - it is a precious resource that must not be wasted.
  • Gardens account for about 25% of domestic water use. Changing the way you care for your garden can greatly reduce the amount of water you need.
  • By choosing plants that have low water requirements, you'll help save water around the home.

Waterwise Garden

Everyone can follow a few simple steps to save water when planning and maintaining a garden. By using water efficiently you’ll not only save water, time and money, you can also grow a healthier garden. Here’s how:

  • Prepare the garden bed using well decomposed organic matter such as compost.
  • Select plants that are able to cope with dry conditions.
  • Use mulch to reduce evaporation and weed growth.
  • Use water saving products such as trigger nozzles.
  • Water slowly and deeply to allow penetration.
  • Water only when needed.

The commitment to sustainable horticulture by Sydney Water and the Australian Botanic Garden is demonstrated in this water-wise garden. It uses recycled landscape materials and features water efficient native plants readily available from retail nurseries. By following these simple steps you can create a garden at home which is water-wise and healthy.

Sydney Water

This Garden was proudly sponsored by Sydney Water to commemorate Water Week 2002.