Plant What Where | Urban Lush

Date: 23-02-2024


Escaping the hustle and bustle of everyday life can be challenging. A lush garden is a thing of beauty, not to mention the health benefits of urban green space. 

Research has shown that cities can be up to 5 degrees warmer than the surrounding countryside in Summer. Paved courtyards have replaced the traditional backyard lawn, while dark coloured roofing absorb the sun’s heat, increasing our reliance on air conditioning. Residential gardens have the potential to make the greatest impact in lowering our city’s temperatures, while also improving general health and wellbeing.

Look for plants that not only soften hard lines and surfaces visually, but also help reduce the outside temperature. Consider plants with dark green, glossy foliage that will absorb the sun’s heat in the height of Summer, and cool the surrounds.

A lush garden doesn’t have to mean high maintenance. There are many low maintenance plant options that can be used to create a green refuge. The trick is to choose plants that perform well in specific conditions, taking into consideration the amount of sunlight and available space. 

Plant Selections:


Helleborus ‘Cinnamon Snow’ 
Known as the ‘Winter Rose’, this is an excellent plant for massing under trees and for other shaded areas of the garden. Cream centred, white flowers emerge in late Winter over a shiny, deep green foliage with blue tinges.

Hedera canariensis
Commonly known as Canary Island Ivy, Hedera canariensis is a vigorous and fast-growing ground cover/climber with glossy triangular shaped green leaves.  Perfect for as a groundcover or as a clinging vine for wall.

Heuchera ‘Peach Flambe pbr’ and Heuchera ‘Obsidian’ pbr
Add colour with this shade-loving perennial. Tall delicate heads with small flowers rise will appear in Spring, but it is the striking, rich coloured foliage that makes Heuchera remarkable.


Liriope muscari 'Emerald Cascade' pbr
‘Emerald Cascade’ is a very tough plant that also delivers on looks. It has spectacular emerald-green weeping foliage that planted en masse is sure to stun. During spring and summer its glossy green foliage is contrasted with cobalt blue berries.

Philodendron ‘Xanadu’
Popular for its lush foliage and dramatically lobed leaves. Requires high light conditions in cooler climates for optimal growth. Can be planted in drifts for a mass tropical display,or combines well with other plantings.

Ligularia reniformis
Add texture with this lush perennial featuring large, glossy dark green ‘tractor seat’ foliage. Great for underplanting a pleached hedge or feature tree.


Gardenia augusta ‘Aimee Yoshiba’
Exquisite white, beautifully perfumed blooms which contrast against dark green glossy foliage. These versatile plants look terrific as a low hedge or as underplantings.

Rhaphiolepis intermedia
This hardy plant can survive in almost any area of the garden. Features with dense leathery foliage with mildly perfumed clusters of small white flowers through summer. Makes a great mid-height hedge.

Aucuba ‘Rozannie’
Also known as Japanese laurel, Aucuba japonica ‘Rozannie’ features lance-shaped glossy green leaves. A great filler in shady areas with impressive foliage when planted en masse. Works well for a Japanese inspired design.

Pittosporum tobira 'Miss Muffett'
Its compact form works well in courtyard settings in pot, as a feature shrub or for small hedges. Its fragrant cream flowers bloom in spring.


Camellia japonica 'Brushfield Yellow'
Camellia japonica brings a burst of colour in the heart of Winter with its beautiful blooms - colours range from vibrant reds to more subtle whites and pinks. Versatile by nature it can take many forms – a flowering hedge, a feature tree or espaliered to conceal an unattractive wall. Thrives in dappled light.

Elaeocarpus eumundi
A lush selection for screening and hedging, featuring rich red/burgandy new growth against dark green foliage. This upright specimen is ideal along fence lines where space is limited and dense screening is required.

Laurus nobilis 'Miles Choice'
A large hardy, drought and salt tolerant tree. 'Miles Choice' is a more compact variety of the Bay Laurel. Produces yellow flowers which occur between September to October.

Magnolia ‘St Mary’
If you’re looking for a traditional look, this evergreen magnolia will grow in a wide variety of conditions. Produces large fragrant flowers during the warmer months. Create a more contemporary look with smaller underplantings.

Prunus lusitanica
Glossy dark green leaves with slender spikes of small, scented white flowers in late Spring. Creates a dense, thick dark green screen when clipped. Stunning as a flowering pleached hedge.


Japanese maples
Having a small garden doesn’t mean you can’t make a statement. Japanese maples are ideal for creating visual interest in a small space. Being deciduous, they put on a show in Autumn with their changing foliage colour. Check out Acer 'Senkaki', with its stunning coral bark, for continued colour through the Winter months.

Magnolia alba
This evergreen tree features small flowers and grows to 6 metres in Melbourne. It is ideal as a large informal screen. On a warm humid night, the scent from the flowers can be enjoyed from a great distance.

Tristaniopsis laurina 'Luscious' pbr
This is a great native alternative to Magnolia. Shiny foliage topped off with red coloured new growth and yellow flowers with a sweet perfume. Bark is a striking port colour that peels back revealing a mottled cream stem.

Magnolia Alba

For more inspiration:
DOWNLOAD our Plant What Where PDF 
and our PINTEREST page.