New show garden uses CFA’s design ideas

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CFA’s Vegetation Management Team recently working with a local council to provide garden design and plant selection advice for bushfire-prone areas.


The Briars is a 230-hectare conservation park in Mount Martha, managed by Mornington Peninsula Shire Council. It includes a conservation site with wildlife sanctuary, a heritage homestead registered with the National Trust, gardens, a visitor centre, the Shire nursery, the Community Forest and the Eco Living Display Centre.

The nursery has a native garden at the entrance which the council wanted to redesign. Over the past seven years, CFA staff (including Dan Idczak, Sharon Merritt, Andy Govanstone and Chris Vassos) worked with nursery staff and Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria, to redesign and construct the garden based on CFA’s publication Landscaping for Bushfire.

The 750-square-metre garden highlights a design that includes local indigenous plants that make a good defendable space between a house and the bush, while also providing a habitat for wildlife and a beautiful, tranquil place.

Here are some of the key aspects of the garden.

Breaking up fuel continuity by creating:

  • a dry creek bed that meanders through the garden separating the organic mulched area from the rock mulch and building
  • paths with crushed rock and stone borders to provide separation and prevent fuel corridors
  • seating area with crushed rock base

Less flammable materials near the building:

  • using rock mulch and succulent plants
  • using a natural water run-off area as a frog bog and water feature

Maintenance and selection of trees:

  • existing stringy and ribbon bark trees were candled to reduce the bark hazard and ribbon bark raked up
  • removal of shrubs near the building

Plants chosen:

  • had a high moisture content
  • can be managed for fire, such as Kangaroo Grass that can be burned to remove dead material and kept green over summer
  • were low growing to keep flame height low and lessen travel into the canopy of trees

To encourage native wildlife:

  • large logs were retained to provide habitat and protection
  • water was a key feature with a bog area for frogs and small ponds to provide drinking water

There are signs giving information about each aspect of the garden and a reference to CFA’s Landscaping for Bushfire publication.

The garden is open Wednesday, Thursday and Friday and the first Saturday of each month.


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Submitted by Sharon Merritt