Book review by Margaret Hodge

Local gardeners and wildlife enthusiasts will welcome a new book by talented Glenlyon gardener, Jill Teschendorff.

In Grow Wild: Gardening to Sustain Wildlife in the Hepburn Shire, Jill aims to ‘empower people to successfully include indigenous plants in their gardens and provide the special habitat needed by our local wildlife.’ Ideas in the book will help a gardener choose how to supplement existing exotic plants with those native to the area, or build larger garden beds entirely of indigenous plants. The end result, according to Grow Wild, will be more wild birds and animals delighting us in our gardens.

Grow Wild contains four sections. A succinct explanation of the importance of habitat for native creatures is given including ideas about linking our gardens to the wider environment. Typical wildlife visitors to our gardens are joyously described and their various habitat needs are reviewed.

Clear advice about how to grow indigenous plants successfully is contained in the second section. Grow Wild steps through the process of creating a wildlife garden from scratch, starting with design of graduated plant layers from ground covers and grasses to shrubs and tall trees. Weed control, soil preparation and garden maintenance are covered. The variety of bio-regions across the Shire is addressed ranging from the drier Goldfields to the moist hilly Uplands and the sometimes boggy Volcanic Plain.

The illustrated list of indigenous plants includes only frost tolerant plants and is helpfully divided into plant types such as climbers or medium shrubs. A simple key allows selection of plants suited to the particular conditions of our gardens.

Suppliers of indigenous plants, useful organisations and references are contained in the final section.

Grow Wild is a small, beautiful book that is packed with good advice and great photos from local contributors including the Wombat Forestcare Design Team. It is a lovely combination of expert knowledge presented in an encouraging, easy-to-read style. Local people interested in creating welcoming garden habitat will value this book.

Grow Wild was funded by a Hepburn Shire Council biodiversity grant and Wombat Forestcare Inc. It is available at local book stores or online at for $15 plus postage.