About the gardener
Dale Frank is an Australian contemporary artist, renowned internationally for his colourful paintings and work in sculpture, performance and installations. You can follow his garden on Instagram @dalefrankbotanicalgardens and learn when it is open for visits.
1. Putting succulents and cacti under shade helps them preserve water. This collection enjoys the benefits of the magnificently tall Queensland kauri (Agathis robusta) and the spreading kaffir plum (Harpephyllum caffrum) - heads up, you'll need room for these two!
2. Add a classical touch with an urn filled with kalanchoe (K.luciae), also known as the flapjack or paddle plant.
3. Spread distinctly blue plants through the green foliage with prickly pears (Opuntia ficus-indica 'Burbank'), a karoo cycad (Encephalartos lehmannii) and agaves (A. havardiana) to lighten up the arrangement.
4. You'll never get tired of the changing colours of the naked lady bushy (Euphorbia tirucalli), a standout limey green in summer, then turning an intense coral pink in autumn and winter.
5. You may consider the apple cactus (Cereus peruvianus 'Monstrose') pretty or ugly, but it's certainly eye-catching. It blooms in summer with the flowers opening at night. The 'apples' it bears taste like dragonfruit.
6. The grand Georgian mansion sitting in the midst of the dry garden was initally surrounded in 1824 by Moreton Bay figs, hoop pines, Australian brown pines and kaffir plum leaves. Many are still there, and have grown immense during the past 200 years.
7. Shaped like a giant cigar, this is the Madagascar palm (Pachypodium lamerei) but it's actually a succulent and is more closely related to cacti. Treat it gently, however, as it has large, sharp spines running up its trunk.
8. Plant giants as a backdrop, such as towering agaves (Furcraea macdougalii) and a mature grass tree (Xanthorrhoea glauca), then add rows of silver torches (Cleistocactus strausii), a gathering of pretty little lemon balls (Notocactus leninghausii) and, finally, clumps of aloe (A. 'Blue Glow').
9.You get a broad church with barrel cactus (Echinocactus grusonii) and bottle trees (Brachychiton rupestris).
How to care for a dry garden
A dry garden survives long periods of no rain, so you don't need to water it. Succulents and cacti have adapted to reduce water loss and store water in their stems, leaves or roots.
1. Group plants to increase humidity and create shade, further reducing water loss.
2. Shade from taller trees or other structures also helps reduce water loss.
3. Enrich soil immediately after planting with a soil improver.
4. Insulate the soil with mulch, either an organic material that breaks down and enriches the soil, or with inorganic material - such as pebbles or crushed granite - that creates a blanket to prevent water loss from the soil through evaporation.
Cactus plant guide
For more gorgeous gardens, pick up a copy of the latest issue of Better Homes and Gardens magazine in selected newsagents and supermarkets or buy online today!
You might also like: