Your Garden in Spring…

Ian was asked recently by Inside Out magazine to provide some recommendations to readers for what they could do in their gardens in Springtime. Ian’s advice will be appearing on the Inside Out magazine website at the start of September, but if you would like to get a head start on your garden in the lead-up to Spring, have a read below…

“Spring often signals new beginnings, so it’s a great time to start afresh by replacing those plants in your garden that just aren’t flourishing the way you might have hoped. Accepting that gardening is not an exact science, but rather an ever-changing experiment, is the key here.

Now is the time to have a play and try something you may not have considered before. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel or completely redesign your garden. If you’re a bit stuck, try asking yourself “If I had to change one thing in my garden, what would it be?” It could be as simple as upgrading an old pot, planting some summer bulbs, or replacing that tired old woody shrub with some beautiful flowering perennials or grasses.

Sometimes one or two small changes are all it takes to reinvigorate your garden for the warmer months ahead.”


A large cluster of different sized pots in shades of charcoal, white and lime green are filled with herbs and flowering perennials, a great way to add greenery to a small space  

Adding a cluster of pots to your garden can be a great design feature and also a wonderful way of adding some plant life to a small space. Here, a large cluster of contemporary pots in varying sizes and muted shades of charcoal, light grey, white, jade and lime green, are filled with an array of flowering perennials. 

A cluster of 3 different sized pots in charcoal & light grey house an array of pastel coloured succulents, an acid green glossy pot housing an Agave adds a pop of bright colour

On the left hand side, a cluster of three different sized contemporary pots in charcoal and light grey house a selection of succulents in pastel shades of green, blue and purple, adding interest to a minimalist garden. On the right hand side, a glossy acid green pot housing an Agave plant injects a bright pop of colour into a contemporary garden with a muted colour palette.

Clusters of pots in black, green and white shades are used to grow herbs in this small courtyard garden designed by Melbourne landscape designers Ian Barker Gardens

Pots in clusters of twos and threes are used here to grow a collection of herbs and to add extra greenery to a small courtyard garden. The colour palette of black, grey, green and white complements the muted colours of the surrounding garden perfectly.

Three charcoal pots filled with Buxus spheres are used to create a focal point in St Kilda garden designed, constructed & maintained by Melbourne garden design company Ian Barker Gardens

Three traditional style charcoal pots placed in a row and filled with Buxus spheres provide a focal point for this classic garden in St Kilda.


Allium giganteum and Allium Drumstick are beautiful summer bulbs that add lovely colour and sculptural interest to the garden with their globe shaped flower heads

Alliums are a great Summer bulb that will provide colour and sculptural interest to your garden in the warmer months. On the left hand side, the large round flower head of the Allium giganteum will add beautiful pops of purple to your garden bed. On the right hand side, Drumstick Alliums with their smaller and more cone-shaped flower head, introduce texture and rich colour. 

Crocus and other bulbs will emerge from the ground in late winter and add some much need colour and interest to the garden when other plants are dormant

For earlier flowering bulbs (late winter – early spring), try planting Crocus bulbs in your garden. They are a great solution for adding interest and colour while the weather is still cold and other plants are dormant. 

Iris & Daffodil are also great bulbs to plant for later winter early spring flowering

Other late winter/early spring flowering bulbs are Daffodils and Irises. Similar to Crocus, they will flower in the colder months just before Spring sets in and will bring some cheer to your garden when not much else is flowering.

Flowering Perennials & Grasses

Perennials such as Agastache 'Sweet Lili' and Salvia are the perfect replacement plants for tired old woody shrubs in your garden that you know will never flourish

Planting perennials in your garden is an easy way to introduce colour and texture. In the above garden, fluffy pink Agastache ‘Sweet Lili‘ (foreground), paired with purple Salvia and Verbena (background), is the perfect complement to this beautiful period home. 

Replace plants that aren't thriving in your garden with a stunning flowering perennial or perhaps a mix of perennials plants in a colour palette of your choosing.

Mixing an assortment of flowering perennials and grasses together can create a wonderful, soft look in your garden and can be effective on both a large and small scale. In the above image from the Ian Barker Gardens gold medal winning Melbourne International Flower & Garden Show garden ‘Reflection‘, you can see a mixture of white Achillea ‘Mondepagode‘, p
ink Polygonum ‘Summer Dance‘, yellow Rudbeckia laciniata, and the feathery textured grass Eragrostis spectabilis ‘Love Grass‘. 

Perennials are a great addition to your garden as they change throughout their life cycle adding seasonal interest to your garden

Salvia’s come in many different varieties and are always a popular choice, looking spectacular in any garden. They can be planted in small garden beds, or en masse in large drifts or waves. 

There are so many varieties of flowering perennials to choose from that will add beauty and colour to your garden, and they grow quickly too!

Verbena bonariensis on the left produces stunning purple flowers and pairs beautifully with other flowering perennials including Savlia, Agastache and Echinacea.