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Garden Essentials

A simplified list of essential plants!

Hello, hello. Now this is kind of a very new thing for me. What’s happened is that nurserymen for the last 3,000 years or so have sold their plants by making a list of plants. And as the industry becomes more complex then their lists just get bigger. Like our list on our website has grown I think to about 15,000 items and that would include all the different sizes of the Silver Birch for example. It’s not just our nursery, but lots of nurseries have got massive lists and they’re all terribly proud of their massive list.

But I started to imagine, if you’re just an ordinary bloke or an ordinary woman and all of a sudden you have to do up the front garden or the boss at work has told you to do up the garden round the factory or something like that, coming face to face with a list of 15,000 plants at your local nursery, it would be absolutely daunting trying to work out which plants to choose. You’d just about need a university degree to be able to put a garden together!

Hello Hello Nursery frontNow I guess having lists of 15,000 plants is really good for the horticulturalist or the person that really knows what he’s doing. But to the average person, it’s more of a problem than an asset. So what we did was that we decided to make a carefully selected list on our website and call it Garden Essentials. And the idea of this list was to keep it as small as possible. Whereas the idea for most nurserymen’s lists is to have it as big as possible, so they can be really proud of their fabulous big range, I decided to make this list as small as possible.

But it couldn’t be too tiny because I wanted the list to work as equally well for a bloke where the boss tells him to stick a garden in front of the factory as when his wife says, look, go out there, we need something along the front fence. Or maybe you go to the estate agent about selling your house next month and the estate agent says you’ve got to fix up that garden real fast.

But it couldn’t be too tiny because I wanted the list to work as equally well for a bloke where the boss tells him to stick a garden in front of the factory as when his wife says, look, go out there, we need something along the front fence. Or maybe you go to the estate agent about selling your house next month and the estate agent says you’ve got to fix up that garden real fast.

In all these sorts of situations where you’re not a qualified horticulturalist and you need to fix up the garden you don’t really want to go through a big list of plants. Especially when some of them are kind of real expensive, but you go and look and discover they’re tiny or they’re real cheap, but you look at them and they’re really just seconds or just rubbish. So it can be very complicated and daunting to pick from a monstrously long list of plants.

A picture of a tree adorned with vibrant leaves in modern gardens

What I wanted to do with Garden Essentials, was that I wanted to have some native plants, some grasses, some ground covers and some popular types of hedges and screens. I included some medium sized and low hedges and some feature plants and that was it. Basically, I just wanted all the key items there that you would need.

A red japanese maple tree in a garden.I chose things that are hardy and easy to grow, so they’re acceptable to lots of people. For instance, if you’re fixing up a garden to sell, you’ll find that a Japanese Maple, has almost universal popularity, whereas if you put a Yucca in there, some people love them and a lot of people hate them. So you won’t find Yuccas in my Garden Essentials because they’re something that’s really good for that odd person but not good for most people.

So with Garden Essentials, we looked for a plant that was hardy, easy to establish, and then at the same time a plant that would be popular or acceptable to lots of people. Then we looked for value for money. And I’ll give you some examples of the sort of thing that what we came up with.

Now the way I like to run the Garden Essentials section is I say to people, put me to the test. Give me a garden problem and see how would I solve it with something from our Garden Essentials range. Like if you needed a screen to block out the neighbours, or you needed some ground cover to cover a bare patch under somewhere or you needed a feature plant I’ll show you how I can solve that problem only using something from the Garden Essentials range.

Classic Melbourne Garden with English Box and Standard RosesThe No. 1 selling plant in Melbourne without doubt is your English Box. I think in Melbourne there’s probably 2 or 3 million of these sold every year and we sell probably 2000 a week. So we’ve got these English Boxes everywhere. If you’re like most people and you’re doing a hedge you’ll be needing 30, 40, 50, 60, 80 or 100 of these. If you are buying them in bulk, you get them for around $5 each.

I didn’t include the great big sizes in the Garden Essentials because with the big sizes if you need 50 or 100 it starts to get a bit expensive.

I also didn’t put the tiny ones in that we sell for a couple of bucks because they really suit people with big projects and tight budgets, but the medium sized ones give you the instant effect, if you’re say putting your house on the market. In this case you plant 7 of those medium sized ones per metre and it will look like a little English Box hedge. Or if you’re keeping the place, you plant about 5 of them per metre and after a couple of years you’ve got a beautiful little English Box hedge. So they’re really great.

A house with a driveway and bushes in front of it.We’ve tried to include lots of really good value for money plants in the Garden Essentials, for example the Box Leaf Privet. This can be used for a low, medium or sort of slightly tall screen. And they are under $6.

White flowers on a plant with green leaves.And things like our Orange Jessamine, we import these from Northern New South Wales and these are as good as most people’s 10 inch pots that cost 50 bucks but ours are under 25 bucks! If you look at the size of them, they’re unbelievably good value for money.

A bush with white and pink flowers.Here’s an example with one of the most popular plants at the moment – your Snow Maiden. It makes a stunning hedge covered in white flowers. Ours are imported in 8” pots for around $25. You can find others for $20 but generally they’ll only be about 25 cm tall. Ours are 50 or 60 cm tall and really great value for money.

Now we’re not the absolute cheapest on everything but we’re probably cheapest in Melbourne on the English Box. I do choose very, very carefully. I’ve got heaps of suppliers and I grow a bit of stuff myself. And what I try to do is choose the best value for money.

White Pratia groundcoverI’ve also included things like our White Pratia and they’re beautiful big plants. I did a garden design recently for a lady and she’s selling a house and we used lots and lots of these and they’re really big and showy.

Eucalyptus plants in pots beautifully complement modern gardens.Now we’ve also included probably the bestselling plant just about in the whole nursery at the moment. It’s the Silver Dichondra. People are going for these because they make an instant impact. They’ve got a fair bit of hang on them, so you can put them in a hanging basket. People plant them on top of walls, they plant them between things like Foxtail Ferns or something like that.

Now in the Garden Essentials you’ll also find some really kind of “sexy” sought after plants, like your Foxtail Fern or your Tractor Seat and so you can buy your Silver Dichondra and put them around these other plants in the garden and spread it all out to give you a really big look.

A modern garden is enhanced by the blooming of a bird of paradise flower.Now we also import something from Northern New South Wales and these are Birds of Paradise for around $25. They’re not the cheapest Bird of Paradise, but they come in an 8” pot, so they’re the biggest! A really good size.

Like my 3ft Iceberg Roses – beautiful strong roses. You could pay around 50 or 60 bucks elsewhere but ours are around $30. Our Iceberg Roses, tend to turn over quickly which is good because sometimes you’ll go into a nursery and their Icebergs will have black spot and the leaves will be dropping off and they’ll be looking a bit sad because they’ve been sitting there for six months.

Our Standard Icebergs are lucky to sit there for three days. They come in fresh from a grower and are still growing. That’s true for a lot of our stock. You get great value for money because a lot of our stuff only sits in the nursery for 3 or 4 days from the time we bring it until the time it sells.

Now when it comes to screening and flowering plants, probably my favourite is Escallonia. It comes in two varieties. Escallonia Iveyi and Escallonia Macrantha. Now, what I like about both of these is that they flower for 5, 6 months of the year. So really, really long flowering. They’re extremely hardy and very, very fast growing.

Magnolia fairy white flower hedgeBut probably the best value for money screen I’ve got at the moment is the Fairy Magnolia, which at most nurseries you’ll find them very, very expensive. But I’ve got Fairy Magnolias, 2.5 – 3 foot tall for 20 bucks.

Now my daughter’s got a Fairy Magnolia hedge around her house and when it’s in flower, people come and knock on the door and say, what’s that amazing hedge you’ve got there? It’s the only hedge I know that actually brings people in off the street. She’s got a beautiful little white wooden cottage with this fabulous, Fairy Magnolia that’s just covered in thousands of white fragrant flowers in springtime. So Fairy Magnolia is very classy, beautiful, dark green, it’s lovely and dense, trims up easy and is very easy to grow and one of the best deals in my Garden Essentials. And every springtime, it gives you this amazing show of white fragrant flowers.

Free Garden Design with ChrisNow how you can make the most of my Garden Essentials range is that if you’re got a garden project that you’re struggling with working out what to plant in it, just sit down with me in a Free Garden Design session and I’ll help you work it out. I’ll ask you questions like – What do you want to achieve here? And you’ll say – I want it bushy or I want to screen out the neighbours or I need a bit of colour or I need low maintenance.

And then having done that, I’ll start to work out some garden situations for you. Like do you need just a little garden bed in front of the factory or something like that. Then you don’t want a feature tree. In fact you might just need a little bit of space. With a feature tree you need to have a lawn that you could put it in the middle of, or a nice big wide garden bed. Nothing looks worse than a feature tree wedged up hard against the fence. So if you’ve only got a narrow garden bed along a fence, scrap the idea of the feature tree.

An image of a tree with the words essential feature trees in modern gardens styles.So the first thing you might think about, if you have the room, is the feature tree and then come down and have what I would call your sub feature, which is your bush, and that would be the second thing that you would look at. But then I’d ask you to think about the style or what you want.

So what we’ve got is a section for feature plants and a section for flowering plants. So if you want to fill your garden with colour, you go to the flowering plants where you’ll find lots of good flowering plants there.

Liriope ElMarco. A modern field of green grass in a garden.We’ve also got borders through to medium hedges – things like your Liriopes. We’ve got a very nice Liriope called El Marco. Not many people know about it but it’s a real treasure the El Marco.

Liriope Elmarco grass plantSo what I did was put a giant Liriope in there which is great where you want a tall lush grass and that’s really good in a bit of a shady spot which has morning sun or afternoon shade. And the other one I included was El Marco. Now El Marco is very interesting because not everybody likes the flowers on Liriopes but El Marco is purely a foliage plant, no flowers. So the great thing about El Marco is that it grows very, very even it’s all grown from division, not from seed because they don’t flower. But anyway, El Marco only grows about 60 cm high with very even beautiful fine foliage so I chose that one.

A modern black rectangle with bold yellow text.Now then you’ve got your tall hedges and screens. So if you’ve got 2-storey units or apartments being built next door and someone’s gonna be peeking into your pool you’ll need a tall hedge or screens. Well we cater for that in Garden Essentials too. So to screen somebody off with a beautiful thick hedge with a good bit of height in it you can’t go wrong with our Ficus hillii Flash. It’s about 1.5 to 1.6 metres high, that’s five foot or so tall. They can be over $100 but in Garden Essentials you’ll find them around $80 – so that’s really good.

Cupressus leighton green conifer, a versatile evergreen for modern gardens styles. Straight and Narrow Lilly Pilly hedge plantThen one of the best deals we have and one of the fastest ways to block people out, particularly if you’ve got a big block or a country property, it’s your Leighton Green Cypress. We’ve got them at over a metre tall for 30 bucks in a 10 inch pot.

Another thing that people are looking for all the time is your straight and narrow Lily Pilly and they can cost a fortune around the place. We’ve got the straight and narrow Lily Pilly for $15 each if you buy a dozen. It’s a special variety that grows compact. It doesn’t get too wide, it’s quite narrow and they grow sort of narrow and tall and straight.

Essential grasses and shrubs for modern garden styles.Then we’ve got grasses and strappy plants. So if you are looking for that modern kind of low maintenance garden with a bit of colour with kind of a funky sort of look we’ve got those there too.

Then we’ve got foliage and accent plants, including things like your Tractor Seat plants.

And then we’ve got climbers and other things to cover the wall. Also ground covers, to put underneath trees and bushes and things like that. And in all of these varieties we’ve chosen the ones that are easy and hardy and easy to grow.

Citrus eurika lemon tree in a modern garden style, 10" pot.Modern citrus lemon tree lisbon in a stylish 10 pot.Now we’ve also got all sorts of deals on lemon trees in Garden Essentials. You’ll find probably some of the best deals in Melbourne. We’ve got 4.5 foot tall, either a Eureka or a Lisbon Lemon for $50. And if you’re in a nice mild coastal spot, the Eureka’s fabulous. If you’re in a harsher spot, like say you’re out in Sunbury, you’ll find you’ll do really well with a Lisbon. So again I like to give people a choice of the two, but they’re both fantastic. And these are 4 foot tall. In some nurseries you’ll pay over a hundred bucks for something that’s 4 foot tall. Ours are all top row, beautiful quality, really, really top shelf stuff.

Acer innaba shidara Japanese gardens blend modern and traditional styles.Another of the really good things is my Garden Essentials is a nice grafted red Weeping Maple. Now in most nurseries these days it is going to set you back a couple of hundred bucks. But I’m proud to say my grower gave me a real good deal and I was able to get a nice grafted Inaba Shidare, which is my favourite red Weeping Maple for 120 bucks. Now don’t forget when you plant them to dig a nice big hole and mix in a bit of potting mix. You’ve got to be a little bit careful, but it’s the hardiest and best of all the Weeping Maples. And you’ll find that there’d be very few nurseries in Melbourne where you could get a top quality Maple for just under $200.

Modern style Hydrangea macrocarpa in a white 6 pot, perfect for modern gardens.Modern Hydrangea macrocarpa pink 6 pot for gardens with modern styles.Oh, one of the things I was going to mention is Hydrangeas. Now Hydrangeas everywhere are costing 15, 19 21 bucks. Our Hydrangeas are 50cm tall and in the Garden Essentials, the most popular height range here is your white ball Hydrangeas that has a lovely big white ball on top and the second most popular is the one that has a lovely big pink ball on top. And we call these a ball Hydrangea or a Macrophylla Hydrangea. They’re in our Garden Essentials for around 10 bucks.

Delivery Vans at front of Hello Hello PlantsNow a great thing about our Garden Essentials range is that we deliver over most parts of Victoria – the highly populated parts like out to Bendigo and Shepparton and out to Taralgon and down to Geelong. We deliver to most of those parts and all through the Melbourne Metro area. We do it all for free delivery when you spend over 300 bucks.

So if you’re putting together a project, you can just go to Garden Essentials section on our website. What’s great is you find there’s not an enormous list to go through. Everything there is great value for money, and they’re the sort of things that you can use without going through too many lists and that’ll help you put a great garden together without spending too much money.

Now remember if you go the Garden Essentials and you still need help, just ring up, get my staff to help or come in and get one of our Free Garden Designs. Say a 20 minute one, which is enough to do a normal front garden, you pay 50 bucks up front and then if you spend over $250 on your plants, you get it for free.

Please note: Prices quoted in this article are correct as of Jan 25th 2024.

Feeling inspired to create your own garden, but want some expert advice? Try our one-on-one garden design service with Chris. Together you’ll come up with a selection of plants along with a layout plan that gives you the look you want, as well as being suitable for your local soil and conditions.

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