Formal Cactus Garden

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Don visited a cutting edge garden belonging to Gitta and Gunther Rembel. The garden is situated in bushland, and takes elements from the natural landscape as well as borrowing sparky ideas from other countries. The Mogul gardens of northern India and Pakistan, as well as the natural vegetation of Mexico and Arizona influenced Andrew Pfeiffer’s world class design. It features separate courtyards or garden rooms divided by a series of walls, the use of bold, happy colours and a very innovative planting scheme.


Australians traditionally just plonk a lemon tree somewhere down the back, but there are much better ways to grow citrus. Gitta and Gunther have mass planted them in borders to create a lush foliage effect. There is a double row of Emperor mandarins (Citrus reticulata ‘Emperor’) trimmed into balls on sticks, and Washington Navel oranges (Citrus sinensis ‘Washington Navel’) line the driveway. As well as producing orange and yellow fruit for the family through winter, the trees have lovely fragrant white flowers in the warmer months of the year.

Cacti and succulents

Once considered ugly, cacti and succulents are now very fashionable. Gitta and Gunther have mass planted them in a geometrical style garden featuring gravel, a circular pond and a rill (a narrow gutter of water) running through the centre. Don was impressed by the silhouettes of taller plants against the sky, resembling a whole series of New York skyscrapers. Gitta’s favourites are the barrel cacti (Echinocactus spp.), which look particularly good placed in the gravel. One of the things she likes about cacti and succulents is that they are so colourful. Many of them flower very well, and others such as hen and chickens (Echeveria agavoides ‘Prolifera’) have stunning foliage colour and form.

‘La Sevillana’

A deep red rose, ‘La Sevillana’, is planted in a raised garden bed at the back of the house above a bright yellow wall. This is an outstanding rose, with healthy, neat foliage and large clusters of brilliant semi-double scarlet blooms for many months of the year. It grows to around 1.5m (5′) tall.

Further information

This garden at 11 McLeod Road, Dural will be open on September 19, 2004 with Australia’s Open Garden Scheme. Phone 1902 261 026 or visit