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Creating a garden oasis at Sovereign Hills

Malcolm McKinlay is a garden centre expert who is bringing his passion to life at home in Sovereign Hills’ new precinct The Heritage.

Over the past year, Malcolm has created the foundations for a lush tropical garden oasis, and shares his inspiration and tips with us here…

Q. Normally people plan their garden around their home but you have done the reverse Mal. Can you tell us why?
Having an idea of the type of garden I wanted to create. It was important to maximise the northern aspect and have the main living areas looking out onto the garden. Building on the southern side of my block ensured maximum winter sun entering the garden space. And the house offers some protection from prevailing winter winds.

Q. Can you tell us about your garden and the variety of plants you have planted?
I wanted to try and create a relaxed tropical-style garden, that could be enjoyed both day and night, with water features and different foliage colour. I have planted palms, Heliconias, Cordylines, Evergreen Gingers, Bromeliads, Canna Lilys, Gardenias and Ixoras.

Q. Where have you drawn your inspiration from?
A family holiday a few years ago to Ubud (Bali) inspired for the relaxed style of the garden that I wanted to create.

Q. Can you share some tips and tricks to get our garden looking like yours? Especially any spring tips now the warmer weather is coming.
Soil preparation is essential, especially with clay soils. Plenty of Gypsum, Compost and a good layer of mulch ensures a healthy, water-wise garden. Deep watering and regular organic fertilizers ensure strong healthy growth.

Q. What types of plants would you recommend for Sovereign Hills gardens?
It’s important to have some shade for summer, especially west facing gardens, so small trees are great. Natives are essential for providing a food source for birdlife, and plants that will tolerate clay soils.

Q. What do you enjoy the most about gardening?
Gardens are a great way to relax, watch things grow and develop from a plan. Creating a space for family and friends to enjoy.

Q. Finally, how are you enjoying being a part of the Sovereign Hills community?
I enjoy the friendly community; people are happy to chat on their walks, the local community centre and being part of a well-planned area.

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